Fort McCoy News May 09, 2014

CSTX begins, brings joint operations to Fort McCoy

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — More than 7,000 service members are participating in the Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) taking place here April 26 to May 16.

"The 86th Training Division is the overall lead for the exercise," explained Brig. Gen. George Thompson, exercise director and commander of 86th Training Division.

Photo 1 for CSTX article
Soldiers from the 979th and 450th Engineering Companies of Kentucky prepare vehicles for the next day of exercises at Base Camp Justice on Fort McCoy. The Soldiers were to conduct mobility recovery the following day.
Photo by Capt. Greta Fennell

"However, it would not be possible without the 75th Training Command, the Medical Readiness Training Command (MRTC), 1st Army, 181st Infantry Brigade, and the Fort McCoy installation. As we continue to develop the exercise, we also want to grow this partnership."

The exercise expands each year and this year has integrated Diamond Saber and Global Medic Exercises to provide enhanced medical simulations, such as the cut-suit and combat casualty care, as well as enhanced training systems for sustaining and supporting maneuver units.

While at the CSTX, units obtain a complete assessment of multi-echelon collective training proficiency and assistance in achieving their specified training aim points in both technical and tactical areas.

The multi-functional training of CSTX exemplifies the Fort McCoy motto, "Total Force Training Center." The exercise accomplishes this by involving joint and multi-component participants. Participants include the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, Army National Guard, active Army, Department of Veterans Affairs, Family Community Outreach, and volunteer civilian doctors.

"It's a very dynamic exercise," said Col. Richard Unda, deputy exercise director, and commander of 2nd Brigade, 86th Training Division.

"Our primary focus for participating units is two-prong," explained Unda. "One is on commanders' needs and their training objectives, to provide them the best opportunity to train their units."

Photo 2 for CSTX article
Soldiers from the 49th Multi-Functional Medical Battalion, of Puerto Rico, grill steaks in preparation for dinner at Forward Operating Base EPW2 on Fort McCoy. Photo by Spc. Austin Stein

The training concept used at CSTX is a crawl-walk-run methodology. Missions begin with instruction demonstration, then incorporate virtual simulations, rehearsals, and execution. This capitalizes on productive feedback to and from commanders throughout the exercise. Training can be adjusted or repeated based on unit needs.

"From that perspective, we are training-oriented with the commanders," said Unda. "They must understand their strengths and weaknesses and their opportunities for improvement."

A robust, light infantry opposing force team from 10th Mountain Division also is injected into the multi-functional training. "This is a place for Soldiers to come train, and we set up the conditions to make it as realistic as possible," said Unda.

The second focus of CSTX is on the individual Soldier level.

"The focus is very simple," explained Unda. "As long as Soldiers leave having learned something within their MOS, warrior task battle drills, and basic survival skills, then we know they have performed their mission to the best of their ability."

The goal for the 2015 CSTX and beyond is to increase joint, multi-component, interagency and coalition participation.

Additional sites to distribute the exercise will also increase functional exercise integration and allow the 86th Training Division to offer live maneuver elements, integrate Joint Readiness Training Center and National Training Center missions, as well as support decisive-action operations.

"Our overall concept is we want the Soldier to leave better trained than when they came," explained Unda.

(Submitted by the 86th Training Division.)