Fort McCoy News Sept. 11, 2015

MATES provides help for new-equipment fielding

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) at Fort McCoy has had a big role in getting new M777 howitzers to National Guard units.

In June and July, MATES personnel helped field the M777 howitzer to the 120th Field Artillery Regiment of Wisconsin and the 122nd Field Artillery Regiment of Illinois.

"With the artillery fielding, we coordinated right from the beginning with the unit fielding teams," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Nohr, MATES field-maintenance supervisor. "We first received the equipment for the units. When the equipment was delivered, we assisted in offloading it, and then we stored it until each unit came to train on it."

Photo
Soldiers from the 120th Field
Artillery Regiment of the Wisconsin
National Guard load an M777
howitzer during live-fire training
at Fort McCoy.
Photo by Vaughn
Larson

The M777 is a towed 155 mm artillery piece that is manned by a nine-person crew, according to Army specifications.

The M777 uses a digital fire-control system to provide navigation, pointing, and self-location, allowing it to be put into action quickly. The M777 was considered a big change for both units.

Each previously used smaller howitzers as their main battle weapons.

Consequently, both units sent Soldiers to train on the M777s at Fort McCoy in late June and early July. (See related story on page 9 of July 10 issue of The Real McCoy or online at http://www.mccoy.army.mil/ReadingRoom/Newspaper/RealMccoy/20150710/
howitzer.html
.)

"After their training was done, we have stored the equipment indoors while the fielding teams were planning the equipment distribution," Nohr said.

"It just eliminated unneeded movement back and forth."

MATES continues to store equipment for both units as each unit also will complete follow-on live-fire training.

"The 120th should be back later this year, and the 122nd should be back not long after," Nohr said.

In recent years, Nohr said the Fort McCoy MATES has supported an increased level of new-equipment fielding and likely will continue to do so.

"It has become more common for us as an organization to support these types of fieldings," Nohr said. "It works out well because we have a good facility and classrooms, and we are located right here at Fort McCoy, where they can use the new equipment and do their validations.

"It cuts down on unneeded logistical challenges that can affect these units," Nohr said.

The MATES facility was first established at Fort McCoy in 1949 when a four-bay maintenance building was built.

Since then, there have been numerous upgrades and expansions during the 1970s, 1990s, and in recent years. The facility now occupies 8.5 acres of the post's cantonment area and has more than 50 employees.

For more information about MATES, call 608-388-3775.