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NEWS | March 28, 2017

The 373rd CSSB is ready to fight!

By Maj. Brandon Mace 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 373rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Beaumont, Texas, participated in Operation Cold Steel, a brand new live-fire qualification exercise for U.S. Army Reserve units Mar. 17 to 23, 2017.

The U.S. Army Reserve stands ready to deploy on short notice in support of missions around the world. Since Sep. 11, 2001 more than 300,000 Army Reserve Soldiers have deployed to support the Total Army and Joint Force. To maintain their combat readiness, weapon qualification exercises like Cold Steel ensure today’s U.S. Army Reserve is the most lethal and combat-capable federal reserve force in the history of our nation.

Operation Cold Steel’s primary focus is crew-served weapons qualification. U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from around the country will train and qualify on weapons including the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, the M240B machine gun and the Mk 19 grenade launcher. Some of these Soldiers will be training on and live-firing these weapons for the first time.

“We are doing this to start a process to get crews qualified across the reserve,” said U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Robert Brem, Operation Cold Steel Battle Captain. “Some of these crews have come from nothing and some of them haven’t touched a crew-served weapon. They are coming away qualified expert twelve days later.”

U.S. Army Reserve Pvt. 2nd Class Thomas Gonzales, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Specialist with the 373rd CSSB, just graduated from basic and advanced individual training on Dec. 10, 2016. He volunteered to participate in Operation Cold Steel when he heard about it from his platoon sergeant.

“It is prepping us for things we might have to do in the future,” said Gonzales. “It tells the world that we are being efficiently trained to be ready whenever we are sent to do what we have to do.”

Before moving to the live-fire certification, crews from the 373rd CSSB spent several hours in simulators practicing every aspect of the upcoming qualification.

“We’ve got a full HMMWV set up. This is exactly like a range, in fact it is Range 61 out at Fort Bliss,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Curtis Speller, vehicle crew  with the 329th Chemical Company in Orlando, Florida. Speller explained that crews are taken through scenarios where they must work together to succeed. “They are going to start rolling down this road and targets are going to pop up. They are going to fire at those targets, giving them real in-the-vehicle training before they actually get into a real vehicle.”

Operation Cold steel will continue at Fort McCoy through April 25, 2017.

The 373rd is a part of the 211th Regional Support Group and the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The command has units throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. As part of America’s Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.