Fort McCoy News August 28, 2015

CSTX training improves mission readiness

BY MAJ. DANA KELLY
84th Training Command Public Affairs

"Go, go, go," the firefighters yell as they rush through the smoky building. They race from room to room looking for people to evacuate. The observer-coach/trainer, or OC/T, watches as firefighters move through the training, taking note of what was done right and what was done wrong. The OC/T's job is to help them improve at executing missions like these before they have to do it for real.

Photo 1
Spc. Michael Ficorilli, assigned to the 305th Military Police Company, Wheeling, W. Va., interacts Aug. 20 with role-playing residents of Gerhardt, a simulated village, as part of the Combat Support Training Exercise at Fort McCoy. Photo by Pfc. Claudia Rocha


Photo 2
(From the left) Spc. Brenda Carobini, Sgt. Asim Fletcher, Staff Sgt. Gabriel Corti, and Pfc. Colton Johnson, all with the 485th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Battalion, perform a casualty evacuation drill on a Litter Obstacle Course Aug. 21 during Operation Red Dragon, which is part of the Combat Support Training Exercise, at Fort McCoy. Photo by Eben Boothby

Photo 3
Sgt. Chase Torgerson, a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 461st Engineer Company, posts security at a Fort McCoy training area Aug. 15. Photo by Spc. Heather Doppke


Photo 4
Soldiers with the 316th Engineer Company haul a log while building a road barrier during training Aug. 17 as part of the Combat Support Training Exercise at Fort McCoy. Photo by Spc. Cody Hein


Photo 5
Parachute riggers with the 842nd Quartermaster Company of Fort Bragg, N.C., build Container Delivery System airdrop bundles Aug. 12 in a hangar at Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport. The airdrop bundles were used as part of airdrop training by Soldiers and Airmen for the exercise at the Badger Drop Zone on Fort McCoy's South Post. Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

These firefighters are Army Reserve Soldiers participating in the 84th Training Command's third Combat Support Training Exercise of the year. The 21-day exercise, also known as CSTX 86-15-03, brought more than 80 units from across the country and Puerto Rico to training areas at Fort McCoy.

Hosted by the 86th Training Division, this CSTX, nicknamed "Operation Bulldog," focused on ensuring units are trained and prepared for missions around the world. This large-scale collective training event was designed so different types of units, such as aviation and logistical support, must all work together to plan and execute a mission — much like they would in a real-world contingency operation. CSTX is where Army Reserve units hone their skills before they deploy.

While the emphasis is on training warrior citizens, Army Reserve units aren't the only ones that benefit from training with others.

"One of the most important factors about the CSTX is the joint nature, or the multicompo(nent) composition of the training audiences and the training partners," said 86th Training Division Commanding General Brig. Gen. Leela Gray. "We have active duty, the Coast Guard, and we actually have a huge Air Force contingent here that's supporting our airdrops, our riggers, and our quartermasters."

Increased participation by joint forces has opened the doors to even more-realistic training opportunities. Recently, a Coast Guard unit temporarily closed a river in Illinois, so Army Reserve units could practice conducting a river crossing. This is just one example of how joint participation in Operation Bulldog helped facilitate training and allowed the training audience to gain practical experience.

The 86th Training Division, as part of the 84th Training Command, wanted to provide units with an accurate depiction of what they would experience during a real-world overseas deployment. From the beginning of the CSTX, Soldiers were immersed in a tactical-training environment where they were treated as if they were actually deployed to a fictional country.

Units had to work together to establish forward operating bases, and, over the course of a few days, they successfully transformed vacant fields into small cities.

As the bases became more fortified, units were able to provide different sustainment capabilities, including laundry capabilities, postal support, and medical services. This experience gives Soldiers some perspective on what it's like to live in an austere environment.

As a unit starts conducting its training, it is assigned an OC/T whose job is to observe it throughout the operation. The OC/T assesses the unit to identify its strengths and weaknesses, then provides mentorship to help improve its operational readiness.
The intensity increases as the exercise progresses and units are faced with an opposing force, or OPFOR, made up of active-duty cavalry Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan.

Using a variety of pre-planned scenarios ranging from combat situations to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, the OPFOR's job has been to test units to see how they respond. This type of training allows the combat-support and combat-service-support units to improve their military proficiency and tactical skills in a controlled environment.

This CSTX is the sixth and final exercise of the year for the 84th Training Command and its training partners, the 75th Training Command and First Army.

When the exercise wraps, the organizations will start focusing on next year's training. Planning already has begun for the Warrior Exercise, or WAREX, and the CSTX hosted by the 86th Training Division, along with two CSTXs and two WAREXs hosted by the 78th Training Division at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and the 91st Training Division at Fort Hunter-Liggett, Calif.

See related stories:

  • Army Reserve firefighters blaze through CSTX (Story, photo)


  • Army engineers train in urban defense during CSTX (Story, photos)


  • Diamond Saber exercise boosts Soldiers' finance skills (Story, photo)


  • Chemical teams combine efforts to complete missions during CSTX (Story, photos)


  • Vehicle-recovery training (Photos)