FORT MCCOY, Wis. (Aug. 25, 2017) - As a platoon of soldiers low-crawled toward a barbed wire obstacle, Army Staff Sgt. Douglas Felter, an observer coach/trainer assigned to 1st Battalion, 409 Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade, looked on.
Carrying with them M1A1 Bangalore torpedoes, an explosive charge designed to clear a three to four meter path through a wire obstacle, Felter observed as each two-man team approached their objective, set their explosives, exited the blast area and detonated the explosives.
This scenario was part of the Combat Support Training Exercise 86-17-02 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, this month, an exercise designed to assist combat-service and combat-service-support units in planning, preparing, supervising and executing pre-mobilization collective training.
"The value this training brings is insurmountable because they adhered to all of the OC/T's that have been on ground," Felter said. Felter was one of two 4th Cav MFTB OC/T's partnered with 396th Mobility Augmentation Company, 478th Engineer Battalion during the exercise.
Although the soldiers, assigned to 396th MAC out of Ashland, Kentucky, were under simulated enemy fire, performing their task under stress gave the soldiers and the unit the opportunity to train in combat conditions, Felter said.
"We get to help coach them and push them in the right direction," Felter said. "The experience here has been pretty good. They have listened to the advice and they have actually improved over the course of [this] CSTX."
Felter, who has been an OC/T for almost a year, said that he enjoys his role as a coach and mentor.
"I absolutely love it because I get to be with Soldiers and I get to help train them," Felter said. "The value for me is when the Soldiers and the unit actually adhere to the advice. Then that tells me that I'm actually doing the right thing."
Army Capt. Kenneth Klinner, the commander of 396th MAC, said training at CSTX gave his unit the opportunity to improve readiness and increase their experience.
"This training has been a tremendous value," Klinner said. "We get to train mounted land [navigation], we can still cordon off an area and we can go through all of the motions better than we can do back at our home station."
The training space provided at Fort McCoy gave Klinner's unit the chance to train their overall mission, breaching and emplacing obstacles.
"We had a few major training objectives coming here which were placing a volcano mine field, bridging a gap and mechanically reducing an obstacle," Klinner said. "Being here at CSTX has given us the equipment and the land space to facilitate that kind of training."
Klinner added that the location and opportunity to train at CSTX were not the only factors that made the exercise successful for his unit. He explained that the OC/T's helped his unit be better prepared to accomplish their task.
The OC/T's took coaching seriously and brought value to the exercise.
"At the end of the day we just really appreciate the time that they have invested in making our company as ready as it possibly can be", Klinner said. "They could really come out here and just take a back seat, but our OC/T's don't do that. They're personally invested in watching us grow and watching us succeed, so I am just grateful for them."