November 26, 2008

Virginia National Guard unit trains to support Operation Iraqi Freedom mission

Fort McCoy News Release

Sgt. Terry Poe operates a D7 bulldozer as he works on construction of an addition  to a berm at Fort McCoy's Contingency Operating Location Freedom. Poe is with the 180th Engineer Company, a Virginia Army National Guard unit training at Fort McCoy, Wis.,  in preparation to deploy to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  (U.S. Army  Photograph)

FORT McCOY, Wis. — Members of the 180th Engineer Company are at Fort McCoy, Wis., preparing for a deployment to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since their arrival at Fort McCoy in October, Soldiers from the 180th, an Army National Guard unit with its home station in Powhatan, Va., have participated in extensive training on equipment and procedures to learn skills they will need to be successful in their mission overseas. Soldiers from the 180th also come from the Richmond, Roanoke and Bristol, Va., areas.

"We welcome the training here at Fort McCoy as an effort to get us prepared for our mission overseas," says Capt. Edward Lewis, commander of the 180th. "The unit is also proud of the support it receives from the Soldiers' hometowns. They know it is just as much a burden on them to have their loved ones serve overseas and that having these hometown connections makes the deployment that much more bearable."

While at Fort McCoy, the unit planned and executed training to provide them with specific combat, survival and warrior skills. 

Sgt. Terry Poe and Spc. Kara Regrut maintain security along with the driver and turret gunner in the Humvee guntruck while  two D7 bulldozers and a front-end loader reposition dirt on a hillside on a Fort McCoy, Wis., training range. Poe is a combat engineer and Regrut a medic, both with the 180 Engineer Company. The maneuver was part of a loading and transfer of dirt for a berm expansion project at Contingency Operating Location Freedom at Fort McCoy. It was also part of the 180th's mission readiness exercise, as the 180th, a Virginia Army National Guard unit, prepares to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army Photograph)

This training is the cornerstone for priming Soldiers for deployment. Soldiers train in an environment and in situations that replicate, as realistically as possible, those they will experience overseas. Soldiers lived in tents in a field location for a portion of the time they were training at Fort McCoy. The training area was surrounded by concertina wire, entry control points and guard towers. Soldiers traveled in convoys. They encountered role players posing as civilians on the battlefield or opposing forces. The training is repetitive, and its intensity increases with each iteration. The ultimate goal is to have Soldiers respond intuitively to threats and situations they encounter. 

The list of required training is extensive. The 180th participated in training related to weapons qualification, Army warrior training, physical fitness, leadership, combat life saving, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mounted combat patrol operations, urban operations, entry control point operations, motor vehicle operations and maintenance, protective mask familiarity and confidence, detainee operations, hand-to-hand combat, reflexive fire, grenades, culture/customs/language, land navigation, and much more.

Sgt. Andrew Gough sits in the driver's seat and  studies the controls of the Heavy Equipment Transporter tractor at the  Regional Training Site-Maintenance Yard at Fort McCoy, Wis. Instructor Sgt. 1st Class Jay Andrews, behind Gough, provides some of the details  about the truck, one of the largest in the Army inventory. Gough is  with the 180th Engineer Company, of Powhatan, Va., mobilizing to  deploy to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army Photograph)

The 180th's training culminated in an Army Training and Evaluation Program, which incorporated and tested all aspects of the individual and collective training they had received.

Prior to deployment, the unit will receive additional military occupation specialty training and will be validated.

"We hope to greatly improve our mission readiness by coupling the training at Fort McCoy with the skills we already have as a combat engineer unit," Lewis said. "All the combined training brings the Soldiers together and prepares them for our mission overseas."

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory