Fort McCoy News October 24, 2014

950th EC completes pre-deployment at Fort McCoy

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers from the Superior-based 950th Engineer Company (EC) completed 10 days of pre-deployment training at Fort McCoy in early October.

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Soldiers from the 950th Engineer Company, a unit based in Superior, Wis., participate in a training exercise at a range on Fort McCoy's South Post.

More than 90 Soldiers from the 950th EC are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this fall. The unit will be in Afghanistan during the anticipated transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support, according to the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. Resolute Support's main objective will be to train, advise and assist Afghan forces after the completion of the 2014 drawdown.

The unit specializes in clearing routes and combating threats posed by improvised explosive devices (IED).

950th EC's Commander Capt. Andrew Redd said the training at Fort McCoy included completing weapons qualifications, Warrior Tasks, convoy operations, dismounted patrol, troop-leading and counter-IED training.

The company also had previously trained on post in the spring and early summer. Redd said the unit's Soldiers are better prepared for their first deployment to Afghanistan, and they did well during their time at Fort McCoy.

"They worked together to integrate new systems we'll be using," Redd said. "We also have some new people and they've all worked together to get everyone (ready) for deployment. They've been performing, and I'm pleased at where we are at in the training."

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As part of their pre-deployment training, 950th Engineer Company Soldiers practiced troop-leading procedures they may use while deployed.

At the height of the training, the 950th Soldiers trained at Fort McCoy's Combined Arms Collective Training Facility and the Home Station Training Complex. They also worked with the the installation's new Counter IED Integration Cell (CI2C) personnel to learn more about counter IED capabilities they'll use while deployed.

"It's been nice training here," Redd said. "We like coming (to Fort McCoy), and I'm glad the weather cooperated during our training time.

"I'd like to thank all the guys at CI2C, the CACTF and the home station training lanes for all the support they've given us," Redd said.

"It's great Fort McCoy has all these facilities," Redd said. "The support we have gotten here, too, has allowed us to train and do what we had to do to be ready."

Sgt. Jeffrey Vierck, a combat engineer with the 950th, said he's enjoyed learning many new things while training at the installation.

"There are some things I've learned here, especially with counter IED, that I've never had a chance to learn about before," Vierck said. "It's been very beneficial."

Photo for 950th article
Sgt. Jeffrey Vierck, a combat engineer from the 950th Engineer Company, practices using a remote-control robot as part of his unit's pre-deployment training.

Vierck said having a place like Fort McCoy to come to for training has helped them be ready for what they have to know for their deployment. "There are so many assets we can learn from and areas where we can train at Fort McCoy — that's extremely important," he said.

The sergeant said he believes his unit is ready for what's ahead of them.

"We've been working hard at many tasks getting prepared, and I think we're ready to go to our next level of preparation," Vierck said.

Spc. Justin Meagher, also a 950th combat engineer, agreed. "Our Soldiers really came together as a team here. We're ready to go — and to be honest — there is no other group of people I'd rather join with on a deployment."

After leaving Fort McCoy, the 950th Soldiers moved on to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training, and then moved on to their deployment to Afghanistan.