Fort McCoy News August 23, 2013

CSTX lane focuses on CBRN attack

STORY & PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. JEFF HANSEN
366th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Dozens of units were at Fort McCoy this year to take part in the 86th Training Division's Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX).

Photo for CBRN article
A Soldier provides perimeter
security during a simulated
chemical attack as part of the
Combat Support Training Exercise.

Soldiers from around the country participated in special training exercises to improve their basic combat skills, as well as their units' collective training tasks.

One of these lanes focuses on reacting to a possible chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attack — specifically on the local populace. Members of the 344th Engineer Battalion acted as villagers who had requested U.S. assistance in response to a possible chemical attack from enemy forces.

Members of the 204th Army Band and the 601st Trailer Transfer Point (TTP) were asked to respond to the request and react to possible enemy contact.

"Some of these situations are new to Soldiers," said Spc. Justin Altavilla, an Operational Forces actor from the 344th Engineer Battalion.

The units came under a simulated mortar attack upon reaching the village and were expected to react accordingly. Altavilla explained how this situation becomes confusing at first, and that the units must work as a team to meet several objectives at a time.

"You can see how Soldiers can lose sight (of their objectives)," he said, adding that he was happy overall with the way units were handling themselves in this difficult situation.

Working with multiple Army Reserve units from varying backgrounds can compound the confusion of any training environment, added Sgt. Dean Delara, a movement noncommissioned officer from the 601st TTP.

"It's not something we do every day," he said. "But we're here to learn the capabilities of our lower enlisted as well as leadership."

Staff Sgt. Jacob Probst, a senior weapons instructor with the 329th Observer/Controller team out of Milwaukee, said the training went well. He said he feels the tasks are important to all units, regardless of their mission. Things like evaluating a casualty, basic security, and requesting medical assistance are things that might go by the wayside for Army Reserve units.

"The diversity of these units makes it difficult to practice all tasks," he said. "And these tasks are important to all units, regardless of unit type."

But whether a regular infantry Soldier, a truck driver, or member of a band, all Soldiers must stay trained on the basic skills. This is the overall purpose of the CSTX, and the CBRN lane is only one of many things Soldiers trained on during the month.