FORT MCCOY, WI, UNITED STATES
FORT McCOY, Wis. – Six days ago, this bustling tent city was just an empty open field on Fort McCoy, Wis. Now with 71 tents, five mobile-kitchen trailers, 26 porta-potties and approximately 23 units from across nine states and U.S. territories, it stands proudly as Forward Operating Base EPW2.
Creating something out of nothing isn’t an easy task, but it’s one the 650th Regional Support Group, Las Vegas, gladly embraced.
“(Warrior Exercise) is an exercise where brigade and battalion staffs can come together to do the Military Decision Making Process and actually get out here and do real training that you can’t do back at your home station,” said Lt. Col. Chandra Roberts, 650th RSG operations officer-in-charge.
“Over 14 months of planning have gone into this culmination of a nearly three-week exercise that tests the knowledge and abilities of units performing their wartime mission,” Roberts explained. She estimated 650th Reserve soldiers have planned and coordinated hundreds of hours outside their normal monthly unit training to pull off this WAREX.
“One of the biggest obstacles in getting to where we are today has been the planning and logistical issues (that arise) while trying to carry on the normal day-to-day operations,” Martin said.
Something that set this particular exercise apart from previous years of WAREX was the austere environment encountered by the units upon their arrival.
Both Roberts and Sgt. Maj. Jeorge Martin, 650th RSG operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge, emphasized that units have become complacent with the operational environment of the past 12 years. Soldiers expect to fall in on existing equipment and built up forward operating bases.
“The last 12 years we have been going back to the same places … Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve forgotten what it is to set up an austere FOB where you would have a flat, bare field that would require you to plan for latrines and mobile kitchen trailers for meals,” Roberts said.
As the Army begins to draw down and cutbacks are required, extensive field training exercises are not exempt.
“This WAREX is different from previous ones because we have had the budget cut almost in half due to the fiscal constraints of federal regulatory guidance,” Roberts explained.
Without the contracting piece, units with combat support missions are able to better use their military skills in an operational environment, according to Martin.
“For the past 10-12 year cycle, the expectations were for contracted meals and tents,” said Martin. “With the reality of coming back to basics, you don’t always have air conditioning, meals aren’t prepared for you and eating that MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) is as important as having breakfast because you may not always get that luxury.”
Also of concern to Martin during the exercise is the concept of leadership and basic customs and courtesies.
“We want to ensure that we are saluting, providing the greeting of the day,” he said. “The discipline and military bearing of our younger Soldiers is just as important as their military skill set. The sense of pride in wearing the uniform is just as tangible as the pride of a job well dont."
||FORT MCCOY, WI, US
||CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, US
||EASLEY, SC, US
||FORT JACKSON, SC, US
||LAS VEGAS, NV, US
This work, Something from nothing, by SSG William Gillespie, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.