By Cheryl Phillips
| 88th Readiness Division | Aug. 27, 2020
Soldiers listen as Staff Sgt. Joe Aguilar, an obeserver/controller/trainer with the 95th Training Division, explains key points of land navigation as part of Operation Ready Warrior at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 21, 2020. This training helps U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers build and strengthen critical skills in order to maintain the stringent readiness requirements while also adhering to the health and safety guidelines set forth by the Department of Defense. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
During fire team Army Warrior Task lanes training, Pfc. Alex Stone, 993rd Transportation Medium Truck Company, bounds forward to maneuver around a suspected explosive device as part of Operation Ready Warrior at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 25, 2020. The training is to help train and test U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers on individual and small team skills while following the training guidelines set forth by the Department of Defense. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Spcs. Julian Marsh-Patterson, left, and Hunter Broome, both with the 518th Sustainment Brigade, plot points on a map as part of the land navigation course at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 21, 2020. The course is part of the U.S. Army Reserve's Operation Ready Warrior, which is an exercise designed to allow Soldiers to maintain proficiency in their warrior tasks as well as overall readiness while maintaining the health and safety protocols set forth by the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 518th Sustainment Brigade plot points on maps as part of the land navigation course at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 21, 2020. The land navigation course allows Soldiers to build and maintain critical skills while also adhering to the health and safety protocols set forth by the Defense Department. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Sgt.Timothy Shaw, 650th Transportation Company, engages a target during the M-4 qualification tables at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 22, 2020. Shaw and other U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are at Fort McCoy as part of Operation Ready Warrior, an exercise designed to train and test individual and small-team skills and tactics while also following the health and safety guidelines of the Department of Defense. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Master Sgt. Jonathan Miller, the range safety officer, the 84th Training Command, checks ammunition for an M249 light machine gun range at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 20, 2020, as part of Operation Ready Warrior. This exercise is the first conducted by the Army Reserve under the COVID-19 precautions and guidelines mandated by the Defense Department. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Sgt. Austin Phipps, an observer/controller/trainer with the 95th Training Division, hands out graphic training aids to U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers participating in land navigation training at Fort McCoy, Wis., August 21, 2020. The land navigation training helps to re-enforce critical skills that allow Soldiers to maintain a high state of readiness while also adhering to the health and safety precautions set forth by the Department of Defense. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Private Carlos Amador, 623rd Transportation Company, crawls under barbed wire while maneuvering through a warrior task lane as part of Operation Ready Warrior at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 23, 2020. This, as well as other training lanes, are designed to test Army Reserve Soldiers on individual and team-level skills while following the Defense Department health and safety guidelines in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. (Photo by Zachary Mott)
Army Reserve Soldiers are learning how to adapt when integrating COVID-19 safety guidelines into training during Operation Ready Warrior underway here.
During Army Warrior Tasks training, Soldiers in six-person fire teams went through scenario-based lanes while wearing face masks during 90-degree temperatures and the heat index reaching 100 degrees or more.
The Soldiers from the 993rd Transportation Medium Truck Company, based in Lakeland and Palatka, Florida, learned how to communicate with their higher headquarters using situation reports. They also completed a nine-line medical report on an injured team member. They gained real-world experience during a scenario that saw them interact with local nationals, respond to an improvised explosive device in the road and react under enemy fire while on patrol through the woods of Fort McCoy.
The observer/controller reminded the Soldiers that everyone is a sensor; if they see something they should say something. That’s why communication was stressed, not only with higher but with each other.
Pfc. Alexander Stone described the OPW training as crawl, walk, run. “There’s a lot of live action training here. It’s faster paced than what we’re used to at our unit,” he said.
A member of the Army Reserve for four years, Stone explained that there is a lot of repetition during the training which reinforces key tasks. “I’m soaking in as much information as I can,” he said.
The 88M wheeled mechanic has learned to adjust despite the COVID-19 requirements. “The virus isn’t something we can’t fight,” he said. “Staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks – we have to adapt. We learn to work through the precautions” of COVID-19.
Stone likes the leadership roles he’s assumed during the training. In his civilian life, Stone is working toward a degree in cybersecurity from Florida Southwest State College, where he’s in his second year.
The best part of the training “is the sense of accomplishment. We’re going to need the training if deployed,” Stone said.
Sgt. Bryce Dickerson said the training is concentrated into a short two weeks. “We’ve trained on new weapons qualifications and the new Army Combat Fitness Test, along with lanes training. It’s good training that we usually don’t get at the unit,” he said. The training also “gives younger Soldiers the opportunity to step up and get into a leadership role.”
The 91B, wheeled vehicle mechanic, likes passing on his knowledge to younger Soldiers. “Great NCOs have pushed me to be better in the past,” something he’s now doing with his fellow unit Soldiers during ORW.
Dickerson has also adapted in a COVID-19 environment. “This is a new normal that we need to learn to live with. This makes you realize that you have to be ready for whatever comes next,” he said.
Unit readiness is enhanced as a result of ORW, with pre-mobilization being the next level. “The training is helping us get ready for the next phase,” Dickerson said.