FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Dozens of units are at Fort McCoy, Wis., this year to take part in the 86th Training Division’s Combat Support Training Exercise 86-13-01.
Soldiers from around the country are participating in special training exercises to improve on their basic combat skills, as well as their units’ collective training tasks.
One of these lanes focuses on reacting to a possible chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear (CBRN) attack – specifically on the local populace. Members of the 344th Engineer Battalion acted as villagers who had requested U.S. assistance with a possible chemical attack from enemy forces.
On Aug. 7, members of the 204th Army Band and the 601st Transportation Company were asked to respond to the request and react to possible enemy contact.
“Some of these situations are new to soldiers,” said Spc. Justin Altavilla, from the 344th Engineer Battalion and who served as an opposing forces actor during the exercise.
The units came under a simulated mortar attack upon reaching the village, and were expected to react accordingly. Altavilla explained how this situation becomes confusing at first, and that the units must work as a team to meet several objectives at a time.
“You can see how soldiers can lose sight,” he said, adding that he was happy overall with the way units were handling themselves in this difficult situation.
Working with multiple Army Reserve units from varying backgrounds can compound the confusion of any training environment, added Sgt. Dean Delara, a movement noncommissioned officer from the 601st.
“It’s not something we do every day,” he said. “But we’re here to learn the capabilities of our lower enlisted as well as leadership.”
Staff Sgt. Jacob Probst, a senior weapons instructor with the 329th Observer/Controller team out of Milwaukee, said that the training had been going well so far.
He said he feels the tasks are important to all units, regardless of their mission. Things like evaluating a casualty, basic security, and requesting medical assistance are things that might go by the wayside for Army Reserve units.
“The diversity of these units makes it difficult to practice all tasks,” he said. “And these tasks are important to all units, regardless of unit type.”
But whether a regular infantry soldier, a truck driver, or member of a band, all soldiers must stay trained on the basic skills. This is the overall purpose of the CSTX, and the CBRN lane is only one of many things soldiers will be trained on during the month.