Fort McCoy News February 28, 2014

Students praise Fort McCoy's training environment

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

This winter, below-zero temperatures and plenty of snow have made life more difficult. Despite the cold and snow, Soldiers here training still say Fort McCoy is one of the best training environments in the Army.

Photo for training article
Students in an 89B Ammunition Specialist Course participate in helicopter sling-load operations training at the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport.

Every year thousands of military personnel from all service branches and counterparts from across the country come to post for some type of training.

Fort McCoy's motto is to be a Total Force Training Center, and its mission is to "underpin readiness of the force by serving as a training center and a support site for power projection missions."

Students in the 89B Ammunition Specialist Course (ASC), taught by the 13th Battalion, 100th Regiment here, said they believe the post has all the right ingredients for building training opportunities.

"I think Fort McCoy has all the tools and materials needed to teach this course," said Sgt. Brandon Pope, a student from the 38th Sustainment Brigade at Kokomo, Ind. "The instructors have been very efficient in making sure that we have everything we need to be able to conduct our training. All the equipment we've needed to be knowledgeable on our tasks has been very efficient."

Sgt. Brian Vulysteke, an ASC student from the 660th Ordnance Company at Pocatello, Idaho, said Fort McCoy offers a nice array of training environments that you might not find in other places.

"Fort McCoy is a great training area because here you can be exposed to a variety of elements depending on the time of year," Vulysteke said.

"You never know where you're going to go fight. You could be fighting in a warm desert climate or someplace where you experience extreme cold such as the mountains of Afghanistan. Whether it's the climate or the ranges and buildings, Fort McCoy can help you prepare for any kind of environment."

Support for students is paramount at any training environment, said Master Sgt. Jonathon Alred, an ASC student from the 167th Theater Sustainment Command at Fort McClellan, Ala. Fort McCoy, he said, is excellent in providing student support.

"I've been to training where it was miserable to be there, and I've been to training environments where it's been great," Alred said. "Fort McCoy leans to the great side.

"Everyone on Fort McCoy seems to be on board with supporting the training effort," he said.

"The post has an excellent dining facility, ASP (ammunition storage point), motor pools and other facilities. But it's more than the facilities — it's the people, and here the support from the people has been great."

Master Sgt. Ron Ferguson, an ASC student from Higher Headquarters Detachment, Joint Forces Headquarters Virginia at Fort Pickett, said being in Wisconsin in January has been "a little colder" than he's used to, but the support has been top notch.

"Working out in below-zero temperatures is a little cold for my taste, but how we've been taken care of has been excellent," Ferguson said. "All the people here are friendly and we've had great food at the dining facility."

For Staff Sgt. Ralph Walton, an ASC student from the 728th Combat Sustainment and Support Battalion at Spring City, Pa., he said the availability of all the ranges for training as well as the excellent student support makes Fort McCoy ideally suited for its mission.

"We were able to complete sling-load training at the Fort McCoy airfield as part of our course," Walton said. "That's just one example of how our hands-on training here boosts the learning experience. This post is well maintained and provides what we need whenever the school needs support."

Fort McCoy has provided support and facilities for field and classroom training for more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

The Fort McCoy complex is situated on 60,000 acres, of which 46,000 are available for maneuver and training.