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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2019

Combat Support takes the lead

By Sgt. 1st Class Gary Witte 207th Regional Support Group

Thousands of U.S. Reserve and National Guard troops faced pressure and hardship this summer at Fort McCoy, Wis., during the 2019 Combat Support Tactical Exercise.

Joint service members from across North America toiled during 24-hour operations while dealing with the certainty of simulated attacks, the uncertainty of outcomes and the scrutiny of military evaluators.

The 207th Regional Support Group helped process these troops at throughout August and was tested itself when it conducted reception, staging, onward movement and integration operations for more than 3,900 troops in a two-day period at the training area in the exercise.

Army Col. Jerome Jackson, commander of the Army Reserve brigade based in Fort Jackson, S.C., said it the first regional support unit to accomplish this task in that short amount of time. He emphasized the goal was to provide integrated base support for the units coming in so they could accomplish their missions.

“All of this is training,” he said. “What we want to do is provide them excellent customer service and base support.” 

Jackson, who has participated in numerous large-scale training exercises, said the difference with the CSTX is its focus on logistical support. He noted that without logistical base support, service members could be hard-pressed to accomplish their mission.

“Logistics is the key,” he said.

Nearly 4,000 troops were projected to take part during the exercise’s August phase with engineering, medical, military police, quartermaster, transportation and adjutant general units among those represented. They included Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel.

Army Col. Michael Barr, chief Observer/Controller Trainer with the Great Lakes Training Division, 84th Training Command, said it is crucial the units receive realistic training during the event. 

“It really is the best combat support training the Army does,” he said, noting upcoming deployments for many of the units. “There are so many of them that are going downrange in the near future.”

Barr, who briefed 207th Regional Support Group Soldiers Aug. 9 on the scenario they would face, said the experience gained during the exercise is important in order to save lives in the real world.

“It’s going to reveal to commanders [their unit’s] strengths and weaknesses to focus on,” he said.

Troops occupied at least a half-dozen bases spread throughout the area and provide their own security. Simulated attacks can come at any hour in many different forms allowing soldiers to train as realistic as possible.
Training included bridging operations, handling prisoners of war, moving and staging heavy equipment as well as housing large numbers of people.

Army Staff Sgt. Nitendra S. Prasad of Las Vegas, a platoon sergeant with the 645th Inland Cargo Transportation Company, stood in the center of the Central Receiving and Shipping Point the afternoon of Aug. 7, directing tractor trailers loaded with vehicles and shipping containers.

“We’re supporting everyone who’s on ground,” he said, noting the unit arrived on a Sunday evening and were at work the next morning. “In less than 12 hours we were already operational.”

The CRSP yard, a large open field in the woods, was divided into several sections for the different types of vehicles and cargo brought there.
“Everything that comes on ground for training comes here first and when they leave, we’ll be busy again,” Prasad said.

For Army Pfc. Anastasia A. Kantzavelos of Morton Grove, Ill., a corrections specialist with the 327th Military Police Battalion, this is her first annual training event. She joined the Army after graduating with a criminal justice degree from National Louis University.

“I really wanted to do something more,” she said.

Kantzavelos, who is pursuing a law enforcement career, said upon arrival Aug. 10 that she looked forward to the exercise. She hoped to practice the skills the unit isn’t able to use during its battle assembly weekends.

“I think it will be good team building as well for us,” she said.

At least 26 states were represented at the August phase of the exercise, including Washington, California, Nevada, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The 207th Regional Support Group, a brigade under the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), is responsible for 17 units throughout the Carolinas. It took over the mission from the 642nd Regional Support Group of Decatur, Ga., which oversaw the exercise in July.