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 December 10, 2010

Mobilization

Engineer unit builds Combat Operating Post

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Soldiers from the 1430th Engineer Company recently carved out a new Fort McCoy training site with the construction of Combat Operating Post (COP) Lashgar overlooking the Badger Drop Zone.

Soldiers training at Fort McCoy have, for decades, constructed training sites as part of their training and before deploying to combat.

PHOTO: Soldiers place the concrete foundation blocks and floor joists on two Southwest Asian huts at Combat Operating Post Lashgar. Photo by Tom Michele
Soldiers place the concrete foundation blocks and floor joists on two Southwest Asian huts at Combat Operating Post Lashgar. The Soldiers are with the 1430th Engineer Company, a Michigan Army National Guard unit preparing to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 1430th, which is preparing to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, constructed the site in support of the Fort McCoy Troop Projects program.

Lashgar differs from other training sites at Fort McCoy because it occupies the high ground, overlooking the drop zone and three training villages and the activity happening there.

COPs are designed and constructed for temporary/short term use to provide over-watch and are designed for platoon- size or below elements.

The much-larger contingency operating locations are designed and constructed on an expedient basis and characterized by temporary facilities requiring minimal engineer effort. Also in the area of front-line facilities are forward operating bases that are designed and constructed on a semi-permanent/permanent basis and characterized by semi-permanent/permanent facilities requiring moderate engineering effort.

“You have the high ground here,” Sgt. 1st Class Rob Merriweather said, “a most vital part of any military operation. It provides a great security point with its great view. That gives Lashgar and Fort McCoy great training value for Soldiers.” Merriweather is an observer-controller-trainer with the 3rd, 340th Training Support Battalion, 181st Infantry Brigade.

“It is a security posture because observers at Lashgar can see miles around and see what is there and what is coming, both friendly forces and threat forces,” Merriweather said. “The panoramic view provides force protection, an ultimate mission of Soldiers.”

Training Soldiers move into and out of Central Asian village sites, reacting to the cultural role players (CRP) portraying Central Asian people, and often opposing forces soldiers firing various weapons at them with blank ammunition.

CRPs portray Central Asian people walking and wandering in and through the McCoy training villages and interacting with the Soldiers moving through. Those may be friendly or unfriendly encounters. The villages also are staging points for opposing forces soldiers, portrayed by U.S. Soldiers on the training staffs, who use various training weapons to violently engage the U.S. forces in the area.

Lashgar began this past summer as a COP, carved on the hillside, some leveling by bulldozers and staked with a few medium-sized tents. Recently Soldiers from the 1430th expanded it. Lashgar subsequently has become part of the Fort McCoy training scene to depict what U.S. forces may encounter as part of their mission.

Lashgar is important for several reasons, Merriweather said. “Soldiers are practicing their skills as construction engineers, building security and protective structures in combat areas and situations,” Merriweather said.

Six guard/sentry towers have been built and triple-strand concertina wire has been stretched around the entire base of the hill.
“Beyond the 1430th’s job-site work,” Merriweather said, “Lashgar will provide a training site for future Soldiers to become acquainted with what they will encounter in-theater, at many places in the world, not just Central Asia.”

“Training Soldiers may occupy the COP for whatever length of time they have or need for their training,” Merriweather said, “meaning they may spend one or more days, and nights, at the site, to perform their security missions that could easily include their own convoys to and from the site, and patrol missions staged from the COP. It also can include interaction with the civilians of the area, in this case the three surrounding villages, and their foot and vehicle movements.”

“Many different training scenarios may be staged at the COP for many years to come,” Merriweather said. “It is just one more asset now added to Fort McCoy.”

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