FORT MCCOY, Wis. –
Fort McCoy Garrison staff and Soldiers with the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade (MFTB) combined to support the mobilization training of Soldiers with the 323rd Chemical Company during July and early August.
The 323rd, an Army Reserve unit based in Sioux Falls, S.D., are completing their mobilization at Fort McCoy through Pershing Strike 23 and its associated Mobilization Exercise (MOBEX) Level II. Pershing Strike 23 is led by First Army Headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., and includes participation from both active- and reserve-component forces at multiple installations.
Fort McCoy is just one of several posts supporting this effort as part of its Mobilization Force Generation Installation capability, said Kurt Bruggemeyer, Mobilizations Branch chief for Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS).
“For this training, Fort McCoy providing its normal life support and base operational support for the mobilizing unit,” Bruggemeyer said. “The 323rd Chemical Company is the mobilizing unit, and in supporting a mobilizing unit such as this the garrison executes its normal mission providing facilities, such as billets, arms rooms, classrooms, ranges, all classes of supply, and more. For the mobilization, we are in a supporting role to First Army and the 181st as they oversee the post-mobilization training and validation of this unit.”
Staff Sgt. Casey Sivert, an observer-coach/trainer (OC/T) with the 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 310th Infantry Regiment of the 181st MFTB, said their role with MOBEX II is meant to train and validate these Army Reserve Soldiers to conduct post-mobilization and deployment operations necessary to provide a combatant commander with trained and ready forces.
“The biggest thing (to know) when we get the mission to help observe, coach, and train these units is we kind of get along with them to make sure they’re planning and their preparation is good to go,” Sivert said. “So, when we find out that they’re going to be mobilizing, and they’re coming out to do ranges to get weapon familiarization or to do anything for live fire exercises or anything like that, we kind of just want to implement everything we can do to get them ready for that. So, we start off, just like the Army always does, with a crawl, walk, run phase. … We make sure that there’s a basic understanding of the fundamentals before we can get into the tactical environment.”
Over the course of their training, Soldiers with the 323rd Soldiers completed a lot of range time on Fort McCoy ranges. Rifle time included qualifying on the M4, M249, and the M2. There also was time spent completing driver training and on the Engagement Skills Trainer.
Sivert said the training leaders with the 181st could see when the 323rd troops first arrived that the knowledge of everything that had to be ready for was there.
“They just kind of need a refresher sometimes because they don’t get to meet up as much as we do,” he said. “And once they get that, you start seeing the wheels turn and you start seeing the motivation for what they're wanting to do.”
And throughout the training, Sivert said preparation and making sure the 323rd troops are prepared is what everyone was striving for.
“The main thing that First Army, and we want to hammer home is to be able to make sure everyone’s prepared,” Sivert said.
Capt. Jade Cruz, company commander with the 323rd Chemical Company, said she enjoys leading her unit and they’ve been working well together during training at Fort McCoy.
“We are just working well together to make a better product, better training, and better process,” Cruz said. “If you give the Soldiers a task to do, and you give them the tools to do it, they’re going to have a lot of fun. And even if they aren’t knowledgeable in what they’re doing, the range personnel (at Fort McCoy) have been fantastic. There have been a lot of questions, and they have answered them patiently and then just going to their NCOs. They know that they can because again, we're one big happy family.”
Spc. Ethan Hernandez, a chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear specialist with the 323rd, said he’s enjoyed building camaraderie with members of his unit.
“We all hang out together and … everybody just works very well together,” Hernandez said. “So, I feel like everybody can work together as a team. They all get things done well, and they all know how to communicate, so everything’s been really good.”
Spc. Dylan Weir, also a chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear specialist with the 323rd, said training has gone well.
“The company has done well together,” Weir said. “We built a team, especially with the gunners trying to help each other out.”
Weir also said the 181st OC/Ts were helpful in supporting training, and he believes his unit will be ready for what they must do once deployed.
“I’d say we’re 110 percent confident in ourselves to do our jobs and our test that we need to do down range,” Weir said.
Fort McCoy last supported a Pershing Strike training effort in 2021. During Pershing Strike 2021 it was a MOBEX Level III training event. The exercise included an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise, two units preparing for deployment, and additional units completing training to “stress” Fort McCoy’s MFGI capabilities, Fort McCoy DPTMS officials said in 2021.
The units preparing for deployment in 2021 included the 645th Inland Cargo Transportation Company and the 1397th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion, and they were also supported by the Fort McCoy Garrison and the 181st.
Fort McCoy DPTMS leadership at that time noted how, “181st Soldiers continue to demonstrate that they are great trainers” after the success of Pershing Strike 2021.
Also, every time mobilization training like this takes place at Fort McCoy, troops need to be fed. That’s when the installation’s food-service team ensures that need is always met.
That team includes the Food Program Management Office (FPMO) and the Subsistence Supply Management Office (SSMO) with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center; the full food-service contractor DCT Inc.; and food suppliers, such as Sysco Foods of Baraboo, Wis., said Fort McCoy Food Program Manager Andy Pisney.
“Food service is a training enabler, and we don’t ever want it to be a distractor,” Pisney said. “The mission always comes first, and if we can support the mission without distracting from it — that’s perfect.”
Fort McCoy support also includes the work completed by personnel in DPTMS’ Range Maintenance, Range Scheduling, Range Operations, and more. And there’s also quality-of-life support provided by the Fort McCoy Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and the Fort McCoy Commissary and Fort McCoy Exchange.
Fort McCoy's motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Also, located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.” Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.
(Article prepared by Scott Sturkol, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office, and Staff Sgt. Ryan Rayno and Staff Sgt. Trenton Lowery, 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade Public Affairs.)