Story by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Taylor
85th Support Command
FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Realistic training in a tactical environment helped to get about 5,000 Soldiers from across the force ready for their missions.
The 86th Training Division, based out of Fort McCoy, Wis., with the 84th Training Command, Fort Knox, Ky.; partnered up with the 75th Training Command, Houston, Texas; the Medical Readiness & Training Command, San Antonio, Texas; and First Army, Rock Island, Ill.; with First Army, Division-West, Fort Hood, Texas; launching this year’s Warrior Exercise (WAREX) 86-14-02 at Fort McCoy, Wis., March 25.
The WAREX training (conducted through April 11) provides an environment for soldiers to practice their functional capabilities in a Combat Training Center-like environment, according to Brig. Gen. George Thompson, Commanding General, 86th Training Division. Thompson further shared end goals for the estimated 5,000 Soldiers participating in the exercise.
“At the end of this exercise, every soldier on the ground will have learned new things and will have increased their functional capabilities,” said Thompson. “If they (soldiers) were mobilized to go perform a mission into the ready pool, they would be able to perform their mission to the maximum extent and come home safely.”
The 181st Infantry Brigade, First Army Division-West; located in Fort McCoy, Wis., typically supports Army Reserve exercises such as the WAREX and the Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) in addition to National Guard exercises held there. Their support includes working with platoon and company-level units to meet their commander’s training objectives of functional training in a tactical environment.
“We work with the OPFOR (Opposing Force) and embedded observer-controller/trainers to provide the right training environment to allow (unit commanders) to meet their training objectives,” said Col. Shawn Klawuder, 181st Infantry Brigade commander.
Lt. Col. Troy Anhalt, battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 338th Combat Sustainment Support Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade; explained that his unit the “Badger” battalion has three significant roles in this exercise. The first is coordination with the OPFOR for the entire exercise; the second is to ensure that the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) equipment on soldiers and vehicles are operational to enhance training value; and the third role is Military Occupational Specialty-specific observer-controller/trainers to support the requirements of their other battalions.
“We now have a lot more direct coordination between OPFOR observer-controller/trainers and the observer-controller/trainers that are in the battalions, embedded with the training audience units,” said Anhalt. “So that direct coordination can tailor all of the OPFOR injects (scenarios during training), and the mission to the specific needs of that training audience so that they get the best training value from that exercise.”
During the initial days of the exercise, Brig. Gen. Gracus K. Dunn, deputy-commanding general for support of First Army, Division-West, visited the WAREX training sites to learn the roles and responsibilities of the supporting units on the ground there.
The 85th Support Command, Chicago-based unit, and under Dunn’s dual-roled command responsibilities, provided personnel in support of the 75th Training Command’s Great Lakes Division G6/Information Technology team across an eight week period there.
“They (75th TC) have chiefs and junior soldiers, but were short of senior noncommissioned officers and officers,” said Col. David Torgerson, 85th Support Command G6/Information Technology section chief. “The 85th Support Command is providing our signal officers, and senior noncommissioned officers, and spreading them across (in support of the training). For us, it gives our older signal officers a look at the new technology. It’s been a great opportunity for our signal officers. I hope we get to do it every year.”