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Arab village scenario added to training

      Soldiers preparing to deploy from Fort McCoy to serve in an overseas location are getting a feel for future missions with several lanes training opportunities, including an Arab village scenario.

      Maj. Todd Lewis, the exercise director from the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion of Arden Hills, Minn., said the Arab village scenario is one of two North Post areas that include live fire. The 1st, 340th is part of the 2nd Brigade, 85th Division (Training Support).

      The lanes were constructed and are updated from input provided by Soldiers or units in theater and other locations, such as power-projection platforms that have these lanes or training with civilians on the battlefield (COBs), Lewis said. The lanes can handle platoon- or company-sized elements.

A view of the Arab mosque depiction established on Range 6 to help mobilizing Soldiers train for deployment. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
A view of the Arab mosque depiction established on Range 6 to help mobilizing Soldiers train for deployment. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Soldiers begin training for the live-fire scenarios on South Post lanes, which include detailed class instruction and non-live fire scenarios, Lewis said. These sites train Soldiers in checkpoint procedures, base camp perimeter defense and rules of engagement. The units going through these sites also interact with COBs.

      Soldiers must complete these lanes and qualify with each individual or crew-served weapon they will use during the live-fire scenarios before being allowed to conduct the live-fire-training, Lewis said. All of the training is coordinated through the 2nd, 85th (TS).

      The Arab village is one of two live-fire lanes on North Post. Range 29 includes convoy operations. The lane begins with classroom training, progresses through a Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System scenario and concludes with a live-fire scenario.

      The Arab village built and developed on Range 6 was a cooperative effort between The Directorate of Training, Mobilization and Security (DTMS) Range Maintenance and Remote Engagement Target Systems (RETS) Branch personnel and the 2nd, 85th (TS). Lewis said the 1st, 340th was brought to Fort McCoy because it had experience developing these training scenarios elsewhere.

      Daryl DeWitt, RETS Section supervisor, and Steven Craig, Range 6 operator, said the village setup includes a facade depiction of a mosque, a base camp area and numerous pop-up targets that depict vehicles and civilian personnel. The items were constructed out of wood and other materials. The pop-up targets were in place for the Infantry Squad Battle Course and were adorned with material to depict Arab civilian dress.

      Craig said the various pop-up targets depict both friendly and not-so-friendly personnel.

      Units have to quickly determine if the personnel are friendly or non-friendly and follow the rules of engagement.

      "The personnel who come here haven't seen the range before so they have to make a decision based on their recognition of a scenario," Craig said. "The range has sound systems, which can play tapes depicting crowd or weapon noises."

      Barry Schroader, the DTMS Range Maintenance supervisor, said the Range Maintenance personnel have worked with the 2nd, 85th (TS) personnel to provide such features as gravel roads for access and trailers for personnel to meet in or work from on the sites.

      The work throughout the lanes also included building or installing more guard shacks, inspection points and machine gun bunkers, he said.

      To give a site a feel of being in country, signs in Arabic have been posted, concertina wire has been placed to establish bunkers and other base-camp type structures have been added in varying quantities at the various lanes sites.

      "We've been busy at the sites and used help from a number of sources including the ChalleNGe Academy (filling sand bags), training troops and mobilizing troops, as well as our own personnel, to help with the work as they could," Schroader said.

            Schroader noted that Range 6 has two lanes, which means that personnel using the Arab village can use one of the lanes while personnel wanting to use the Infantry Squad Battle Course can use the other lane.

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