Fort McCoy News July 8, 2016

Law-enforcement teams use CACTF for SWAT training

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

A light breeze carried smoke from several 37 mm smoke grenades and covered the approaching armored Bearcat tactical vehicle at Fort McCoy's Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF).

The Bearcat, carrying a team of law-enforcement officers completing a basic special-weapons-and-tactics (SWAT) barricade scenario, rolled to a quick stop in front of one of the CACTF's simulated residential buildings. The SWAT students quickly placed themselves in defensive positions. An instructor then placed detonation cord along the door hinges of the "barricaded" door.

Law-enforcement officers carry a simulated victim during a scenario at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility.
Law-enforcement officers carry a simulated victim during a scenario at the
Combined Arms Collective Training Facility.

After an immediate count of "three … two … one," the detonation cord exploded, reducing the door to splinters that traveled through the air in all directions. The team immediately filed through the now-open door to complete its mission by capturing the suspect who created the barricade. Within minutes, the scenario was over.

"What we are trying to teach in this course is small-unit tactics and basic entries that (officers) would come across in an emergency response," said Sgt. Michael Valencia, lead training instructor, who is a patrol sergeant and SWAT team leader with the La Crosse (Wis.) County Sheriff's Department. "We also focus on high-risk entries, barricaded subjects, and hostage-rescue scenarios."

Valencia, along with seven team members from La Crosse, taught 12 other law-enforcement officers in a four-day, 40-hour basic SWAT course. The first two days of training were held in La Crosse and focused on classroom and firearms training. The remainder involved scenarios at the Fort McCoy CACTF complex.

"(The CACTF) is a great facility for us to train in," Valencia said. "We try to come here between four and five times a year."
The 12 students are employed by the Wisconsin State Patrol; sheriff departments in Dane, Vernon, Sauk, and Trempealeau counties; and Sauk Prairie and Hillsboro police departments.

One of the students, Detective Drew Bulin with the Sauk County Sheriff's Department, said he recently was assigned to a SWAT unit within his county and appreciated the opportunity to train at Fort McCoy with the La Crosse County team leading the training.

Law-enforcement officers from several Wisconsin cities and counties stay in a safe defensive position as detonation cord explodes a door off its hinges during a basic special-weapons-and-tactics training scenario at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility on Fort McCoy's South Post.
Law-enforcement officers from several Wisconsin cities and
counties stay in a safe defensive position as detonation cord
explodes a door off its hinges during a basic special-
weapons-and-tactics training scenario at the Combined Arms
Collective Training Facility on Fort McCoy's South Post.

"The experience to do this at the Fort McCoy CACTF is great. … There is such a variety of buildings," Bulin said. "The SWAT training is not only good for call-outs and emergency-response team-related things, but also every day on the street as a patrol officer.

"In doing this here, too, we've been exposed to how La Crosse County does things as a (SWAT) team," Bulin said. "They train in much the same way as other regional teams, so if you are involved in an operation (with) those other counties, then you know some of the things to expect."

Deputy Brian Shunk with Dane County Sheriff's Department, said, "The training is pretty hardcore. It's physically and mentally demanding."

Sgt. Kevin Deeren with Trempealeau County Sheriff's Department, also a student, trained at Fort McCoy for the first time.

"The CACTF is very realistic," Dereen said. "You can do a great number of scenarios here that are based on different situations we could be placed in. … Also, this course is a good opportunity to learn the technique and hear about the experience from other departments in the area."

After course completion, Valencia said each student builds on the basics they learned. "And who knows, they may return again one day to train at Fort McCoy," he said.

The CACTF complex was built at a cost of more than $14 million and was completed in late 2012.

The CACTF training support buildings represent multistory residential, commercial, government, business, and industrial operations.

The CACTF primarily hosts training for service members in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Law-enforcement teams and other nonmilitary agencies may schedule use of the facility when it's not being utilized for military training.

For more information about the CACTF, call 608-388-1257.