FORT McCoy, Wis. (Army News Service, Aug. 12, 2008) -- More than 4,000 servicemembers gathered at Fort McCoy last month for what officials are calling a new type of training exercise for the Army Reserve.

Patriot Warrior 2008 included missions ranging from road-building to medical to supply, while at the same time forcing troops to respond to combat scenarios that could be faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The exercise brought together Army Reserve Soldiers from around the continental United States, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. Also participating were more than 100 British troops from the United Kingdom's Territorial Army, Yorkshire, England.

"Many of the officers and Soldiers at Patriot Warrior are combat-experienced, which provides a challenge in planning and executing realistic training. I believe we will have met this challenge and look forward to a successful and, as always, safe exercise," said Brig. Gen. Walter B. Chahanovich, commanding general, 78th Training Brigade and exercise director.

This is a new approach to preparing Reserve Soldiers for what they may encounter when deployed, said Col. John McDougall, deputy exercise coordinator for the training.

Taking part in Patriot Warrior were engineers, military police, medical service, logistics and public affairs. The units trained on a variety of tasks specific to their mission. Some of the tasks included constructing roads and buildings, supplying troops with food and water, providing medical support for service members and training security operations.

"This exercise is the first step in preparing a unit for its war-time mission," said Brig. Gen. Charles Estes, commanding general, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

"Patriot Warrior is a war exercise involving CS (combat support) and CSS (combat service and support) units in live, collective tasks to exit the R/T (Ready Train) phase of the Army force generation," said Maj. Michael Feeney, 311th Military History Detachment.

"Essentially, it gives Soldiers a chance to practice unit-mission tasks, such as mobilization, and at the same time, experience in deploying force protection tasks.

A major component of the exercise was an, "OPFOR," or opposing force. Some units represented a notional, or fictitious, enemy.

Feeney said, "This will enable Army Reserve combat support and combat service support components an opportunity to practice theater operations while carrying out their unit missions in a realistic environment, while providing force protection against a nonconventional enemy threat."

It is not summer camp for weekend warriors, according to Lt. Col. James Billings, commander of the 361st Public Affairs Operations Center and spokesman for the exercise. "The skills they are testing here will be used in Iraq and Afghanistan soon."

Patriot Warrior '08 has taken one year of preparation, said McDougall. "Now, we are in execution phase, and that's where we want to be."

This is one of two "Warrior Exercises" the Army Reserve is conducting this year with the support of Fort McCoy. The Army Reserve is no longer a one-weekend-a-month standby force, officials said, adding that it's a ready and trained Army on call for deployment at all times.

(Sgt. Timothy Book serves with the 326th MPAD, USAR)