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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2022

Army Reserve CSTX enhances realistic environments for training of its forces and partner nations

By Staff Sgt. Erika Whitaker 85th Support Command

The Army Reserve’s 86th Training Division facilitated Combat Support Training Exercise 86-22-02 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, August 6 – 20, 2022, where training focused on the sustainer.

Various scenarios helped both the training units and observer coach trainers improve their readiness capabilities.

The multi-day exercise consisted of home station training lanes where convoying Rotational Training Units were assessed on their ability to successfully complete four injects, or scenarios. The injects challenged Soldiers to perform first aid amid hostile civilian crowds, react to opposition force ambushes, react to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear attacks and navigate difficult terrain during indirect and sniper fire.

“We are building an environment that replicates what it will be like when we’re dealing with peer-to-peer conflicts in austere environments,” said Lt. Col. Charlie O’Connell, Chief of Operations, 86th Training Division. “We have the Rotational Training Units and the 86th TD training partners who come in to help build that environment for the RTUs.”

The 86th TD’s commander also explained how Army Reserve Soldiers’ civilian skills enhanced their training experiences.

“Our Soldiers combine their real-world education and experience with their assigned duties as Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Robert E. Guidry, Commanding General, 86th Training Division. “We bring to the table an evaluation of their respective skillsets.”

Nearly 3500 Soldiers from transportation companies, movement control teams, quartermaster, hospital and other logistics units received training from about 1000 86th TD Soldiers and training partners, according to the 86th TD. These partners included observer coach trainers from the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command’s 2nd, 361st Training Support Battalion, operationally controlled by the 181st Multifunctional Training Brigade.

Lt. Col. Victoria Richie, Commander, 2/361st TSBN, explained how she integrated her OC/Ts into the 86th TD’s mission.

“My OC/Ts contacted the RTUs and picked the tasks they would evaluate the units on. The 2/361st TSBN then sent the evaluation tasks to the 86th TD to see how they would be integrated within the exercise platform and ensure everyone was supported,” said Richie.

The OC/Ts’ feedback helped units accomplish their commanders’ goals.

“RTUs pick the Commanders Training Objectives, and the 86th TD builds the exercise around those training objectives,” said Col. Ryan Brzezinski, Mission Support Officer-in-Charge, 86th TD. “The OC/Ts then observe the units, collect data, and train, if necessary, to make sure they are meeting those objectives based on the commander’s intent.”

The OC/Ts’ training support assisted commanders to prepare for current real-world missions.

“As a (Multi-functional Medical Battalion), we need to know how to go out to the field and to an austere environment,” said Lt. Col. Robert Vincent, Commander, 49th MMB. “Our unit also conducted Hurricane Rita relief under the Defense Support of Civil Authorities. The CSTX will only increase our proficiency to conduct future DSCA missions.”

Soldiers in the training audience also found a great deal of value in the training opportunities.

“This has been high speed and good hands-on training,” said Sgt. Eric Borski, Transportation Management Coordinator, 888th Transportation Company Detachment. “I’ll probably learn more during this annual training than in most full, fiscal years, and the OC/Ts have been very patient and helpful as they train and evaluate our unit.”

Foreign military partners viewed the CSTX as an opportunity to work with the United States military and improve their servicemembers’ readiness, as well.

“The Canadian Armed Forces have come to the CSTX to see how we can work in a combined environment with United States military branches,” said Maj. Terry Larson, Deputy Commanding Officer, 15th Field Ambulance, Canadian Armed Forces. “We are looking for better ways to leverage our countries’ relationship, ensure we provide good, appropriate manpower and provide the best experience for our people and nation.”

A representative from the British Army also praised the exercise.

“The CSTX is a real opportunity to explore what the reservist army can deliver in terms of operations and capability,” said Maj. Brian Davies, Company Commander, Army Training Unit North, British Army. “This exercise has really tested the service people, and it’ll give them a good opportunity to be ready for deployment.”

CSTX 86-22-02 helped Soldiers expand on relevance and become more cohesive teams in accordance with the Army Reserve.

“The 86th TD is always in compliance with the Chief of the Army Reserve’s goal of being ready and relevant,” said Col. Carl Timothy Tyler, G3, 86th TD. “The more ready we are, the more lives we save. Not only are we preparing and training Soldiers on their individual proficiencies, but we’re also training them to work together as a team.”