Cold Steel, CSTX increasing OPTEMPO at 'Total Force Training Center'

By Scott Sturkol | Fort McCoy Public Affairs | Feb. 26, 2018

FORT McCOY, Wis. — Training in 2018 has already been at a high pace at Fort McCoy during January and February, and the schedule shows it’s going to continue to be busy.

During January and into early February, more than 1,200 Marines were at Fort McCoy for their Ullr Shield cold-weather training exercise.

The Marines, all from units with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., trained at areas all over post, such as the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF), Improved Tactical Training Base Freedom, numerous live-fire ranges, and more.

Coming up, the Fort McCoy range complex will see further extensive use, especially live-fire ranges, for the Operation Cold Steel (OCS) II exercise, which began in mid-February.

According to exercise planners, OCS II operations at Fort McCoy for 2018 will be under Task Force Triad. The task force, hosted by the 416th Theater Engineer Command, will conduct training at the installation through May 26 and more than 3,000 Soldiers are expected to attend the mounted crew-served weapons qualification training.

“Training and range use for (Cold Steel) will be similar to last year,” said Training Coordination Branch Chief Craig Meeusen with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. “For this training, Ranges 2, 18, 26, and 34 will be mainly used.”

Beginning in March, the 78th Training Division will hold a Combat Support Training Exercise, or CSTX.

CSTX is a Combat Support Training Program (CSTP) exercise, which is a large-scale training event where units experience tactical training scenarios specifically designed to replicate real-world missions, according to the Army Reserve. CSTP exercises “prepare America’s Army Reserve units to be combat-ready by immersing them in realistic scenarios where they train as they would fight.”

“This CSTX is one of three being held at Fort McCoy this year,” Meeusen said. “We are also having a CSTX in June and August.”

The March CSTX, which is scheduled to cover the entire month, includes involvement with the Army’s Medical Readiness Training Command and with personnel and facilities at the Regional Training Site-Medical at Fort McCoy. “We expect approximately 3,000 (service members) to participate in the March CSTX,” Meeusen said.

Thousands of service members from many units are also scheduled to come to Fort McCoy in February and March for battle-drill and extended-combat training. These include infantry, psychological operations, engineer, medical, and combat-support units.

For institutional training, hundreds more service members are scheduled to train with garrison and tenant organizations at the installation, including with the 13th Battalion, 100th Regiment; Regional Training Site-Maintenance, Medical Simulation Training Center, Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and Wisconsin Military Academy and in courses like the Cold-Weather Operations Course.

To support the training this year, especially during the exercises, Fort McCoy staff members have a lot to do. For example, on the food-support side, the Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Supply and Services Division and its Subsistence Supply Management Office (SSMO) provide food, ice, and more for training troops, said Fort McCoy Food Service Manager Andy Pisney.

For the Ullr Shield exercise, Fort McCoy food service personnel provided 878 modules of unitized group rations (UGRs) that equals 43,900 meals; 2,409 cases (28,908 meals) of cold-weather meals; 14 cases of kosher meals, ready to eat (MREs); and rations enhancements of fruit, salad, cereal, etc., worth more than $60,000.

For the March CSTX, food-service support will include the distribution of 2,279 modules (113,950 meals) of UGRs, 5,280 cases (63,360 meals) of MREs, and $70,000 of rations enhancements, Pisney said.

“For Cold Steel, we will open up Dining Facility (building) 2674, and it will provide two hot meals daily to them,” Pisney said.

“They will eat breakfast and dinner meals in the dining facility and eat an MRE lunch. The dining facility staff will also (prepare) 240 meals (daily) for four different ranges for each breakfast and dinner meal. For those in the cantonment area for the March CSTX, they will also eat breakfast and dinner meals in building 2674.”

Other training at the installation coming up will be Army Reserve training for Soldiers in the public affairs career field, Meeusen said.