FORT McCOY, Wis. –
To prepare for an upcoming deployment to the Central Command area of responsibility, Army Reserve engineers are improving the training facilities at Fort McCoy, Wis., through a set of projects, Oct. 19, 2022.
“We’re doing (military occupational specialty) training, construction training, which includes 12 Whiskey work and mainly 12 Kilo work which is electrical and carpentry work,” said Staff Sgt. Nathanael Saye, job supervisor, 461st Engineer Company, 367th Engineer Battalion, 372nd Engineer Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command.
That work includes three training buildings on Tactical Training Base Liberty here.
“One of the buildings we’re doing mainly finish work to include trimming out windows, doors, re-hanging doors, plumbing doors and door hardware,” Saye said. “The second building is mainly electrical work, doing it from start from to finish as well as doing the rest of the interior framing. We are starting the floor system on the third building on the exterior. They’re working on setting the floor posts, getting that all leveled up and then getting ready to run floor joists.”
With three buildings in various states of project completion, Soldiers have an opportunity to work on skills outside of their typical MOS-related duties.
“We’re basically getting in where we fit in,” said Pfc. Winston Klein, an electrician with the 461st Engineer Company. “If they need help doing framing, this is what I do on the civilian side, so I have a lot of knowledge of getting this all squared away.”
“We call that cross training,” Saye said of Soldiers working outside of their assigned job duties. “It is important because let’s say a mission calls and we’re out somewhere that there’s only a select amount of people, it allows them to use that knowledge that they’ve gained in training out in the field to not only just do their job but to help with others.”
There are several Soldiers in the 461st who work in similar, but different, career fields as civilians. It’s something each Soldier said they see as a benefit of the Army Reserve.
“A lot of people have a lot of that civilian knowledge that they bring into the Army Reserve,” Saye said. “One person may be an electrician on the civilian side, but they may be a carpenter on the military side. That helps with passing that knowledge onto other people as well.”
Klein said he wanted to join his local electrician’s union, but there was a two-year waiting period before he would be able to start. He then looked at the military as an option to help him on that journey.
“I found the military had their own electrical engineering program so I joined that hoping it would benefit me on the other side as well,” he said.
For Sgt. Christopher Jarvis, an Army Reserve electrician who also owns his own electrical company as a civilian, said the being an engineer Soldier is a good way to learn additional skills.
“Being an electrician, we get the chance to work around all trades,” he said. “I’ve picked up framing, I’ve picked up plumbing, and things like that. If someone wants to step out of their comfort zone, I would definitely say that joining the Army Reserve, engineer side, would be very helpful.”
Being a military tradesman can also have benefits for civilian occupations as well.
“The training that you get from the military, those credits, those hours that you put into the military can help you advance faster in your civilian career and get you your respective license,” Saye said
The 461st Engineer Company will continue working on these building projects for the next nine days before returning to its home station in Fargo, N.D. The Soldiers will use the time between now and their deployment to continue building their skills and teamwork before departing.
“A lot of them take pride in their work,” Saye said. “It helps that the people with experience are able to help out others and help accomplish the mission.”