Nearly doubling the troop training total from fiscal year 2020, Fort McCoy supported the training of 116,053 troops on post during fiscal year 2021.
During fiscal year 2020, 60,054 troops trained at Fort McCoy because training was scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During fiscal year 2021, with existing COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, the installation brought back training levels to beyond 100,000 troops.
Larry Sharp, chief of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Training Coordination Branch, said the training numbers include Army Reserve soldiers; National Guard service members; and active-duty troops from not just the Army but also other services, such as the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
Training statistics reflect many types of training opportunities that take place at the installation by active- and reserve-component forces and other governmental agencies, according to DPTMS.
During fiscal year 2021, training included several Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) sessions; battle-drill (weekend) training; annual training; mobilization; institutional training; and numerous exercises, including a Warrior Exercise, Combat Support Training Exercise, Diamond Saber, Global Medic, and the level III Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) mobilization exercise Pershing Strike ’21.
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Pershing Strike included an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE), two units preparing for deployment, and additional units completing training to “stress” Mobilization Force Generation Installation (MFGI) capabilities, said Fort McCoy DPTMS Director Mike Todd.
“This exercise enables Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) to prepare their system for a unit to deploy,” Todd said in July, noting it helps the command and units make sure everything such as personnel and equipment are ready for a deployment while at the same time helping refine the MFGI capabilities.
DPTMS Mobilization/Demobilization Branch Chief Kurt Bruggemeyer, who directly supported Pershing Strike ’21, said in many cases an EDRE, which was held the second week of July at Fort McCoy and Volk Field, and a mobilization exercise are held separately. But for Pershing Strike ’21, the EDRE was intertwined with the exercise.
“Mobilization exercises vary in levels, with some only being table-top exercises and others integrating numerous units that may or may not actually be deploying into a theater of combat operations,” Bruggemeyer said. “During this mobilization exercise Pershing Strike, FORSCOM injected an EDRE into the mobilization exercise flow of units to do several things. First, it tested and evaluated the deploying unit’s ability to deploy/redeploy. And secondly, the EDRE unit’s soldiers helped to stress the Fort McCoy MFGI enterprise’s ability to support mobilization operations on a larger scale.”
DPTMS personnel document the training statistics each month of the fiscal year, Sharp said. This involves combining numbers of the entire transient training population, which encompasses reserve- and active-component military forces as well as other training agencies, such as law-enforcement agencies or the Wisconsin Challenge Academy.
Fort McCoy Food Program Manager Andy Pisney with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center said the installation’s food-service team definitely noticed the increased level of training throughout the fiscal year.
“Food is universal to every operation, and our team really worked hard to support everything that took place at the installation,” Pisney said. “And we’ve also done our support with COVID-19 still being a factor in our operations. The whole team — the Food Program Management Office, Supply Subsistence Management Office, and contractors and suppliers — had a role in our successful support of the training mission. I’m very proud of our team.”
All of the training also plays a role in the economic impact the installation has on local economies. According to the Fort McCoy’s Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, in fiscal year 2020, Fort McCoy’s total economic impact for that fiscal year was an estimated $1.479 billion.
Service members appreciate their training experiences at Fort McCoy as well. For example, Marine Capt. William Myers with the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company said in February that he appreciated the individualized instruction of CWOC, and he said all the instructors are highly knowledgeable and approachable. He said building improvised shelters and the proper wear of cold-weather clothing are skills he planned to train others on in his unit.
Myers also said Fort McCoy is a great place for cold-weather training. “Fort McCoy mirrors the climate of many of the NATO countries where (our unit) conducts major exercises, thus providing a good exposure to cold weather we might experience in training or conducting operations over there,” he said.
DPTMS officials project similar training numbers or higher at the installation in fiscal year 2022.
"Fort McCoy mirrors the climate of many of the NATO countries where (our unit) conducts major exercises, thus providing a good exposure to cold weather we might experience in training or conducting operations over there."
Marine Capt. William Myers, 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company