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Armor unit on target for future mission
     1st/632nd scheduled to become light infantry

Members of the 1st Battalion, 632nd Armor, with headquarters at Wausau, Wis., wanted to make sure they went out with a bang, if it was indeed their last annual training (AT) as an armor unit at Fort McCoy.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard unit is part of the 32nd Separate Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) of Madison, Wis. Army directives have the 32nd being redesignated as a light infantry unit. The unit currently is an armor unit, which has M-1 Abrams tanks as its main weaponry.

The 632nd has come to Fort McCoy's Multi-Purpose Training Range (MPTR) for training for the past seven years because the installation has the best tank-table qualification facilities nearest to the unit's home station, according to Terry Hoff. Hoff is a range specialist with the Remote Enhanced Targeting Systems Branch of the Directorate of Training and Mobilization Range Division.

Sgt. Shawn Wiedenhoeft, a platoon leader for C Company of the 1st/632nd of Marinette, Wis., said if the changeover to a light infantry designation occurs, the 1st/632nd would be an antitank unit. The unit likely would train at Fort McCoy.

"We wouldn't have the M-1 Abrams tanks," Wiedenhoeft said. "We probably would have HUMVEEs and TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missiles) weapons."

Unit members kept their mind on the task at hand and completed AT as an armor unit at the Fort McCoy MPTR in style, Wiedenhoeft said.

Staff Sgt. Michael DeCoster, a tank commander for C Company, said the unit goes through meticulous preparation before firing the M-1 Abrams at Fort McCoy.

Unit personnel can practice on mobile simulators at home station. DeCoster said unit members also come to Fort McCoy for weekend training to familiarize themselves with the MPTR.

During AT training at Fort McCoy, the units go through initial training runs on what is called Tank Table VII. Tank Table VII allows the crews to fire the weapons and get used to the targets.

Between firing, the crews perform thorough maintenance to ensure the tanks work properly.

After the training runs on Tank Table VII, the crews qualify on Tank Table VIII, the qualification phase, in both day and night conditions, he said.

The crews have to qualify every other year. DeCoster said during the alternate year personnel go to Gowan Field in Idaho or Fort Knox, Ky., for an Army Readiness and Training Evaluation Program AT.

Sgt. Jerry Munson, a gunner for C Company, said he liked the training at McCoy because he had a chance to fire live ammunition.

"This is the one time a year we get to use live ammunition," Munson said. "It's a lot better to do this with the outdoor sound effects. It makes it seem real."

Spc. Darrell Kuntz, a loader/driver for C Company, said it was good training to see the rounds go down range and to drive the tanks.

The tanks are stored and maintained by the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site at McCoy. He was confident before heading into the qualification firing.

"We have the crew operation down well," he said.

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