Fort McCoy News February 13, 2015

Range 19 establishment expands training capabilities

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Flexible training operations should result from the establishment of Range 19, a new live-fire range on Fort McCoy's North Post, according to Installation Range Officer Mike Todd of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range Management Branch.

photo 1 Range 19
Range Safety Officer Brad Vieth calls into the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Range Operations fire desk while near the impact area at Range 19 on Fort McCoy's North Post.

Range 19, which did not exist previously, was activated on a hilltop between Ranges 6 and 18 on the north side of the 8,000-acre impact area.

"Range 19 is a bare-bones kind of range," Todd said. "There are no structures, and we have no plans to expand the permanence of the range. However, we are glad we have another area open to help make range operations better in the future."

The range will allow units to shoot munitions that sometimes produce duds, which reduces the need to shut down training on other ranges, especially Ranges 2, 4, 26 and 29.

"These ranges (2, 4, 26 and 29) combine to form an aerial gunnery range that can accommodate a combined arms live-fire exercise," Todd said. "Moving systems that occasionally produce dud munitions to Range 19 will reduce the cost of unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance in the long term, as well."

Range 19 is equipped to support TOW (tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided) systems and related light- to heavy-weapons systems. "We emplaced hard targets in the northern portion of the impact area (near the range) to meet the live-fire requirements of those systems," Todd said.

Though dud munitions are rare, lessening their affect on training is important. Range 19 will help alleviate any training impacts of a dud munition.

"Once there is a dud munition (that poses a problem), we have to get it cleared, and it shuts down or at least degrades the use of that range until EOD (explosive ordnance) personnel finish the dud and UXO clearance work," Todd said.

photo 2 Range 19
A direct-line view into the Fort McCoy impact area from Range 19.

"There is not an EOD unit on the installation, so we contact EOD folks — sometimes as far away as Kentucky — to come up here and clear duds or UXO," Todd said. "That process could take up to a week, which translates into lost training time and reduced range availability."

Adding in a training area like Range 19 also reduces impact on firing order in the impact area, Todd said.

"Previously, we would have to shut a unit down, move the potentially dud-producing system into place, fire, and then clear the range, which on a range like Range 2 could take an hour," Todd said. "Now, we can have a TOW completely set up to fire (at Range 19) and can wait for a break in a unit training on a range like Range 29, for example. Once the unit on Range 29 is between firing iterations, we can fire the TOW and then the unit on Range 29 can start the next firing iteration.

"This minimizes impact to training time, and, in this case, the impact to the unit on Range 29 would be none since we could time the TOW firing to natural break in unit firing orders," Todd said. "Having Range 19 will now cause less interference in training activity and help training operations — overall — flow better."

Range Safety Officer Brad Vieth said he welcomes the flexibility Range 19 brings to range operations.

"It will really help with scheduling, and gives us another area to fire (Army) missile and rocket systems," Vieth said. "Also, to not have to close off other ranges because of the surface danger zone created by a TOW or Javelin munition will help make things safer."

Range improvements align with the Fort McCoy strategic objectives to continually modernize the infrastructure and to enhance military value through improved training area utilization and land-use initiatives.

For more information about range operations, call 608-388-5110.