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NEWS | Feb. 24, 2017

Operation Cold Steel begins in March at Fort McCoy

By February 23, 2017 Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office

Fort McCoy’s role as the “Total Force Training Center” continues to hold true as the installation prepares to support Operation Cold Steel — a new Army Reserve live-fire exercise taking place March 4 to April 29.

The exercise’s purpose is to qualify select gun crews to support “Objective-T” requirements for Army Early Response Forces, or AERF, according to exercise planners. Army Reserve forces, which are part of the overall AERF contingency forces, are part of the Army plan to provide a force that can deploy on short notice to respond to contingencies when needed.

Objective-T refers to training requirements and is a process to generate, report, and complete training readiness. In a 2015 article by Army News Service, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, deputy chief of staff for Army G-3/5/7, said “demanding, multiechelon collective training is the key effort to achieving and maintaining unit readiness. … The new Objective-T rating (provides) greater granularity to the training readiness of units across the Army by blending the art of command with the scientific metrics of unit training at the individual and collective levels.”

Commanding General of the 84th Training Command Maj. Gen. Scottie D. Carpenter said the exercise is crucial for Army Reserve Soldiers.

“Operation Cold Steel is one of the largest live-fire training opportunities in the Army Reserve, and it provides a common platform for (Reserve) units to qualify on crew-served weapon systems,” Carpenter said. “The Army Reserve’s Combat Support Training Program emphasizes tactical training in an expeditionary environment, and Operation Cold Steel is another venue to reinforce that training.”

During Operation Cold Steel, Soldiers will not only be meeting those Objective-T requirements, they’ll also keep the Fort McCoy staff busy.
“The peak population during the exercise is going to be about 800 to 815 at a time, but the total number of people training throughout the exercise will be about 1,700 to 1,800,” said Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Training Coordination Branch Chief Craig Meeusen. “The (exercise participants) will rotate in and out as training is completed.”

Range Support Specialist Larry Sharp with DPTMS said the training will include Soldiers from installations Armywide. “Individual crews (15 per cycle) from across the country are completing a 12-day program of instruction that involves individual qualification, digital simulations, and live-fire crew qualification,” he said.

The training is done in accordance with Army Training Circular 4-11.46, Sustainment Unit Gunnery and Live Fire Exercise Strategy. Soldiers will train and qualify on M2, M19, and M240B weapons that are mounted to various military vehicle platforms.

Directorate of Public Works Troop Facilities Support Branch Chief Kert Hanson said participants will be using 19 barracks and 10 maintenance, administrative, supply, and other facilities during the exercise. Among those facilities to be used is the recently upgraded brigade headquarters building 2776.

“We just finished a complete overhaul of updated furniture in (building 2776) prior to this exercise,” Hanson said. “The new layout and furniture additions will be a valuable asset for the Cold Steel mission. The building had older nonmatching furniture from Fort McCoy’s mobilization days and was short of desks, chairs, whiteboards, and no official conference room. The upgrades completed this winter have eliminated those shortfalls.”

Fort McCoy staff also will be providing full food-services support for Cold Steel participants, said Fort McCoy Food Program Manager Andy Pisney with the Logistics Readiness Center.

“We opened up dining facility 2727 specifically to support the Cold Steel exercise,” Pisney said. “This dining facility is close to their billeting and will serve hot breakfast and dinner meals. Lunch for exercise participants will be an MRE, which the exercise coordinators will draw in bulk from our Subsistence Supply Management Office.

“We also plan on remote-site feeding a lot of meals,” Pisney said. “These are meals prepared at the dining facility and picked up by their support cadre, who will take to the ranges and feed their Soldiers. This will include breakfast and dinner meals as well.”

Having Operation Cold Steel at Fort McCoy also aligns with objectives in the installation’s Strategic Business Plan for 2016-2020 to maintain and expand Fort McCoy’s institutional and transient training customer base.

“In our five-year strategic plan … we always want to increase training at Fort McCoy,” said DPTMS Director Brad Stewart. “The training capacity and capability as well as the staff we have here is top-notch, so it’s no surprise Fort McCoy is continuing to grow its customer base with an exercise like Operation Cold Steel.”

For more information about training opportunities at Fort McCoy, call the DPTMS Training Division at 608-388-5038.

(Lt. Col. Dana Kelly, 84th Training Command, contributed to this article.)