Fort McCoy News Aug. 12, 2016

Realistic WAREX training aids Soldier preparedness

Soldiers with the 330th Medical Brigade participate in field instruction on proper medical-evacuation procedures during Warrior Exercise 86-16-03 at Fort McCoy in mid July.
Soldiers with the 330th Medical Brigade participate in field instruction
on proper medical-evacuation procedures during Warrior Exercise 86-
16-03 at Fort McCoy in mid-July.
Photo by Spc. Joseph Driver


Sgt. Johnson Labrake, 366th Engineer Company, Canton, N.Y., provides overwatch during a mine-clearing exercise during Warrior Exercise 86-16-03 at Fort McCoy in July.
Sgt. Johnson Labrake, 366th Engineer Company, Canton, N.Y., provides
overwatch during a mine-clearing exercise during Warrior Exercise 86-
16-03 at Fort McCoy in July.
Photo by Sgt. Robert Farrell


Capt. Devon Stanforth (right), observer-controller/trainer with the 1st Battalion, 383rd Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, conducts a class on troop-leading procedures for Soldiers assigned with the 314th Chemical Company of Decatur, Ga., during Warrior Exercise 86-16-03 at Improved Tactical Training Base Liberty at Fort McCoy.
Capt. Devon Stanforth (right), observer-controller/trainer with the 1st
Battalion, 383rd Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, conducts a class on
troop-leading procedures for Soldiers assigned with the 314th Chemical
Company of Decatur, Ga., during Warrior Exercise 86-16-03 at Improved
Tactical Training Base Liberty at Fort McCoy.
Photo by Anthony L. Taylor


Sgt. John Mooc with the 968th Quartermaster Company of Tustin, Calif., winds anchor cord during Warrior Exercise operations at Big Sandy Lake on Fort McCoy’s South Post.
Sgt. John Mooc with the 968th Quartermaster Company of Tustin, Calif.,
winds anchor cord during Warrior Exercise operations at Big Sandy
Lake on Fort McCoy's South Post.
Photo by Spc. Joseph Driver

BY SGT. DEVIN WOOD
215th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT McCOY, Wis. — Small-arms fire and exploding ordnance attacks by opposing forces are real-world threats that face Soldiers in a combat theater. For Reserve Soldiers, it can be difficult to simulate that environment at the unit level during monthly battle assemblies.

To achieve the most-realistic training possible, Reserve units teamed with active Army and Army National Guard units for the 84th Training Command and 86th Training Division Warrior Exercise (WAREX) 86-16-03 held July 9-23.

Soldiers with the 320th Military Police (MP) Company, Middleton, Conn., had the opportunity to go through a mass-casualty scenario involving live role-players, aviation units, and combat medics.

"This environment is great," said Staff Sgt. Nikesha Cabrera, a squad leader with the 320th. "Probably half of my squad has never worked with medics or actually seen a Blackhawk (land)."

The 320th was one of 92 units from across the Army that honed their skills during the final WAREX rotation of the year. WAREX provides units an opportunity to train in tactical and combat training environments, enforces small-unit leadership principles, and reinforces Army warrior training.

During WAREX, the 84th Training Command used a Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) 2.1 to set the stage. DATE combines virtual scenarios with real-life role-players to create an intense environment designed to encompass the training audience, test them with multiple stressors, and assess them on how they react.

According to Cabrera, her Soldiers know how to do basic Army Warrior Tasks, such as call for medical evacuation, but having to do it facing the pressure and speed of a live scenario adds an extra layer of stress and gives leadership the chance to observe how the Soldiers react.

"This is the type of thing you learn in (advanced individual training)," said Cabrera. "You're supposed to continually build on that, and if you don't, it can take a few weeks to actually relearn those things and reapply it. We'd like to think that if it happens you kick into high gear and you know exactly what to do, but it doesn't always work like that."

According to Sgt. Michael Schreckengost, a team leader with the 320th MP Company, it's hard to get the level of training at a home station compared to an installation like Fort McCoy.

Observer-controller/trainers (OC/Ts) help instruct Soldiers and get them going in the right direction. Without interfering with the scenario, the OC/Ts asked questions to make the Soldiers think about the decisions they were making and how those decisions would affect the overall mission.

"Getting them out here, living in tents and grinding and sweating and being in 'the suck,' it gets them into a mindset ... away from distractions, and they start zooming in and watching the NCOs and how things are going, and they start getting engaged," said Schreckengost.

According to Cabrera, good training in the rear translates to good skills in real-world practice. WAREX is designed to provide that for units that are midway in their readiness cycle.

"Exercises like this give the Soldier-leader the confidence they need to go to war," said Col. William Woods, commander of 2nd Brigade, 86th Training Division.