Fort McCoy News February 27, 2015

Project provides combat-engineer training resources

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 50 logs harvested as part of tree removal will be used by Army combat engineers to complete abatis training at Range 17A on Fort McCoy's North Post.

photo for Abatis
An excavator operated by Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance Coordinator
Brooks Lundeen of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and
Security moves in an area on South Post. The trees have been moved to Range
17A to be used for abatis training.

An abatis, by Army definition, is a defensive obstacle.

Abatis are commonly constructed using large trees, telephone poles, or similar objects to stop an opposing force.

In January, the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB) and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) worked together to remove trees from an area near the Fort McCoy Airport to improve aviation safety. As part of that project, about 25 percent of the cut trees were made available for future training use.

DPTMS Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance Coordinator Brooks Lundeen, who was a part of the forestry project, said it makes sense to repurpose the trees.

"These trees were available and weren't going to be sold for any kind of timber use, so it provided a good opportunity to take some up to (Range) 17A to use for the abatis training," Lundeen said. "It provides a valuable resource for some very important training."

When trees are used to create an abatis, they are cut down, or felled via explosives, so the tops are crisscrossed and point toward the expected enemy direction.

An abatis is most effective for stopping vehicles in a forest or at narrow movement routes, according to the Army Field Manual.
This obstacle also may be reinforced with mines.

Range 17A is a light demolition range and has an engineer training station perfectly set up for abatis training opportunities, said Integrated Training Area Management Coordinator Brent Friedl of DPTMS.

"As part of their abilities, combat engineers can go into a forested area to blow up trees to use like road blocks," Friedl said.
"On (Range) 17A, there are areas where these logs can be stood up for engineers to practice forming an abatis."

Lundeen said there are six holes at Range 17A where the logs can be used.

"The holes are set up across from each other, and the basic concept is they will stick the tree down the hole then use an explosives detonation to make the crisscross pattern to knock down the trees and block a simulated road," Lundeen said.

Friedl said the project is another example of how well Fort McCoy's agencies work together to make the best use of resources.

"By gaining the logs for training, it allows us to have those resources ready for any units that may conduct abatis training this summer," Friedl said. "It also saves us from finding, or even purchasing, those resources at a later time."

For more information about Fort McCoy's ranges, call 608-388-5110.