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NEWS | May 13, 2015

Unit provides hands-on support for WAREX

By 642nd Regional Support Group Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gary Witte

DECATUR, Ga. - A Georgia-based U.S. Army Reserve unit is providing support to thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers during a multi-week training exercise in Wisconsin this month.

The commander of the 642nd Regional Support Group is overseeing the real-world sustainment of more than a half-dozen units, while his headquarters runs a base for nearly 1,000 troops participating in WAREX at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Almost 4,000 Reserve Soldiers from across the United States are expected to attend WAREX. This exercise will test their ability to run missions in a potentially hostile environment among multiple operating bases. Soldiers will have to react to various attacks, incidents and difficulties during the exercise similar to situations they might experience in a combat environment.

“The scenarios we use simulate events and problems we might experience during any given deployment,” 642nd Regional Support Group Commander Col. Tucker Wilson said. “The exercise improves our operational capability, increases our efficiency and can eventually save lives during actual missions.”

The event will serve as annual training for many of the units, which include the 89th Sustainment Brigade from Kansas City, Mo., the 655th Regional Support Group based at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., the 389th Engineer Combat Battalion headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, and the 397th Engineer Battalion from Eau Claire, Wis.

Other units include the 854th Engineer Battalion out of Saugerties, New York , the San Diego-based 96th Military Police Battalion and the 1116th Mobilization Support Battalion from Forest Park, Ill. 

The headquarters element of the 642nd Regional Support Group, which is based in Decatur, Ga., will provide oversight and support of the entire exercise and the essential services of one of the many operating bases.

Lt. Col. John Perrel, deputy brigade commander of the 642nd Regional Support Group, said the tactical training helps troops work as a team, compared to weekend battle assembly where Soldiers often handle tasks just within their area of responsibility.

“The realism is just unattainable in a simulated environment,” he said. “Most of the Soldiers want to be Soldiers. This is what Soldiers do. We go to the field. We work with limited resources and meet mission demands.”

Perrel compared unit training at home bases to jogging using a treadmill.

“When you run a race on real roads, you see there is a difference,” he said.