|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
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.
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
“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
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.”