FORT MCCOY, Wis. –
As COVID-19 shut the country down, and even the world, the Army kept rolling along.
This statement is true at any Army Reserve installation, but more acutely here. As one of the premier Army Reserve training locations, it has been one busy summer, particularly for the 641st Regional Support Group from St. Petersburg, Fla.
From Warrior Exercise training to Command Post exercises, Fort McCoy is no stranger to multiple training scenarios culminating at one time. However, there is one exercise that has strategic importance. For nearly a year, the command and staff of the 641st RSG have been planning what is known as a Mobilization Force Generation Installation exercise.
The purpose of the large-scale exercise, named Pershing Strike 21, is to test the capabilities of Fort McCoy as an MFGI for the U.S. Army Reserve. The 641st RSG was chosen to provide oversight and support of mobilization activities of the MFGI. During Pershing Strike 21, the unit became what is known as a Mobilization Support Force, which synchronized and controlled execution of all mobilization operations.
“Imagine one of our adversaries invaded a neighboring country who was our ally,” said Maj. Stephen Parkerhaase, S-3 operations officer for the 641st. “The active component could only sustain themselves for so long. Most of the Army’s sustainment is in the Army Reserve and that’s why this is a no fail mission for us.”
Over the course of a month the MSF, processed more than 1,200 soldiers through Fort McCoy, 300 of which are continuing on to real world missions. All Soldiers were provided sustainment and logistical support from the time they arrived until the time they departed. “We need to prove to our bosses that we can do this, but more importantly, we need to show our adversaries that we are capable of this as well,” said Parkerhaase.
The MSF was also challenged with an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise injected into the middle of Pershing Strike 21. The MSF had to switch gears and provide support for the 2-30th Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Polk, La., within a five-day period. This kind of scenario tests the Army Reserve’s capabilities to see how many Soldiers they can push through to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world.
“There is all this talk about meeting a near-peer enemy. Well, I don’t believe that,” said Col. Cheley Gabriel, brigade commander for the 641st RSG. “I see our enemies evolving into solid peers in several areas such as technology, resources and personnel and even out-pacing us in some areas, and we need to be ready for that.”
Currently, Fort McCoy is one of nine US Army Reserve MFGIs, and the only base commanded solely by a USAR Commanding General. For a large-scale worldwide mobilization, Fort McCoy will serve as a needed augmentation for the effort of rapid deployment of the Army’s maximum combat strength to meet our enemies on the battlefield.