March 21, 2017 –
In keeping with their motto “Strength for Battle,” U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from the 373rd Combat Support Sustainment Command out of Beaumont, Texas, traveled to Fort McCoy to sharpen their combat skills during Operation Cold Steel.
Operation Cold Steel is the first large-scale live-fire and individual weapons qualification training of its kind in the U.S. Army Reserve. It is designed to train and certify nearly 500 gun crews from 60 U.S. Army Reserve units across the nation on the M2 .50 caliber and M240B machine guns and the Mark 19 40mm grenade launcher.
According to exercise officials at the 84th Training Command, about 1,600 Soldiers will fire nearly 5 million rounds of machine gun ammunition and over 40,000 rounds of 40-mm grenades during the seven-week exercise.
“My goal is to become an expert on the 50-cal and take it back to the unit and get my soldiers trained up so that when they come here, they’ll be ahead of the game,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Will Hoebeck Jr., a Petroleum Specialist with the 373rd.
Hoebeck, along with his crewmates, Spc. Chelsea Mitchell and Pvt. 2nd Class Thomas Gonzales, are among 16-members from the 373rd participating in the inaugural event.
Training includes firing the weapons systems from various military vehicle platforms using state-of-the-art simulators as well as live-fire ranges.
They practice their crew coordination, evasive maneuvers and engaging the enemy techniques in a Humvee simulator by scanning the terrain and communicating while targets pop up.
“We are creating quick reaction forces that can rapidly respond to [world] conflicts,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lanzoni, Operation Cold Steel operations noncommissioned officer in charge, assigned to the 167th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion.
Lanzoni stated that in the past, it has taken three months to mobilize and have a crew combat qualified, but with today’s advanced capabilities featured in the exercise, crews can become experts in 12 days.
Operation Cold Steel is an important step towards honing soldier’s wartime readiness capabilities and maintaining the United States Army Reserve as the most capable, combat ready and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the nation. The exercise will continue at Fort McCoy through April 25, 2017.
The 373rd is part of the 211th Regional Support Group and the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The command comprises Army Reserve soldiers, civilians and their families in units located throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Their units are trained, combat ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.