Fort McCoy News Sept. 11, 2015

ECS-67, MATES support major exercises at McCoy

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Equipment Concentration Site (ECS)-67 and Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) ramp up support for service members at the installation during large-scale training exercises.

Support can be provided in many forms from each organization, including issuing and maintaining equipment, training, supplying parts, and more.

"Basically, it can be every circumstance and situation with the way units train now," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Nohr, MATES field-maintenance supervisor. "Training is more versatile now, so we, in turn, stay versatile in our support to unit (personnel) who train here."

Photo 1
Soldiers with the 321st Engineer Company inspect tactical vehicles at an Equipment Concentration Site-67 storage lot at Fort McCoy.

ECS-67, which is part of the 88th Regional Support Command (RSC), is a tenant organization that mainly supports Army Reserve forces. MATES, also a tenant, is a Wisconsin National Guard organization. Both organizations, however, regularly provide support to both active- and reserve-component forces from all services who train at Fort McCoy, especially during large-scale exercises.

Supervisory Equipment Specialist Jared Smith of the 88th RSC said everyone at ECS-67 has an important role in getting ready for the exercise season, which typically spans from March through October each year.

"This is no small task by any means; ECS-67 loans thousands of pieces of equipment per exercise to supported units," Smith said. "Our employees work hard year-round to ensure the equipment is maintained and ready for the exercise season. During the exercise season, they're constantly shifting manpower to ensure the units are supported and the equipment is staged and ready — often working after hours to make sure the mission is completed."

The pace of support operations at MATES mirrors that of ECS-67, said Capt. Valerie Breunig, assistant shop supervisor.

"For the (86th Training Division's) CSTX, we had (several) units utilizing the MATES facility to do their maintenance operations," Breunig said. "And since March of this year, we have supported nearly 120 requests for equipment support. A good example may be when we provided support to units from Iowa and Illinois (for exercises), which included both Guard and Reserve units. Illinois units came in and not only used our equipment, but also our facilities. Iowa units used our equipment and primarily used our supply point for parts."

Photo 2
Staff Sgt. Greg Boyer, surface-maintenance mechanic at the Fort McCoy Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site, works on a tactical vehicle at the facility.

Both MATES and ECS-67 have a wide variety of equipment to issue and maintain. Examples are cargo trucks of every size (including trailers), towed howitzers, humvees, mine-detection vehicles, bulldozers, bucket loaders, compactors, excavators, scrapers, small- and large-caliber personnel weapons of all types, tents, tools, and much more. Units also store this equipment at Fort McCoy because it saves money.

"ECS-67's mission is to store and maintain equipment for units that either don't have the resources to maintain it or don't have room for it at home station," Smith said. "A couple of key pieces to successful training are having a great training area, which Fort McCoy has, and having the equipment to train with, which ECS-67 has.

"In many cases, our customers just have to get themselves here, along with any individual or special equipment needs they may have," Smith said. "This aids Fort McCoy to provide a premier training area that also enables commanders to provide the training Soldiers need. Also, with ECS-67 being located on Fort McCoy, it saves a huge amount in transportation money due to the large amount of equipment being on site. I have no doubt the location of the ECS significantly increases the (number) of (service members) who (train) at Fort McCoy on an annual basis."

Nohr said MATES has a similar storage capability. "The National Guard mandates that we keep 33 percent of its equipment here instead of units keeping large amounts of equipment at their facilities. It just makes (fiscal) sense to do this," he said.
Supervisory Maintenance Management Specialist Jason Sikorski with the 88th RSC said support at ECS-67 also goes beyond just issuing equipment.

"We also provide hands-on training opportunities, which consists of Soldiers working alongside our military-technician employees while maintaining, operating, and inventorying equipment, thus sustaining the skills that most Soldiers don't have an opportunity to use on a regular basis."

Breunig said MATES personnel will provide training as well as on-site maintenance. "We recently sent out a contact team to an area (on post) because a unit had generators break down and needed service. We not only provided maintenance on that equipment, we also gave the unit (personnel) a class on how to maintain the equipment."

Whether it's for major exercises, such the Combat Support Training Exercise and Warrior Exercise, or for unit-training weekends and battle-assembly training, members of both ECS-67 and MATES said success is achieved through the hard work and dedication of their employees.

"They continually find ways, with limited resources, to get the mission accomplished," Smith said. "Our (ECS-67) employees show up to work every day knowing that the tasks ahead are enormous, knowing that to be able to do everything that needs to be done requires a larger workforce, but they endure. They press on knowing that what they're doing is making a difference."

"(Our MATES employees) are extremely flexible," Breunig said. "They are great (at) working with the customers. The folks here jump through hoops to support our customers, and they know what we have to do here so well — it just amazes me."

For more information about ECS-67 operations, call 608-388-2424. For more information about MATES operations, call 608-388-3775.