Army Reservists train for battlefield scenarios at Fort McCoy

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About 125,000 soldiers train at Fort McCoy each year, according to public affairs specialist Zach Mott.

FORT MCCOY (WKBT) – At Fort McCoy on Monday, groups of Army Reservists performed a series of battlefield simulations.

The first simulation involved a soldier who was injured after a vehicle was fired at. The task required Army Reserve troops to rescue the injured soldier while protecting a convoy of vehicles.

The caveat to the first task was a crowd of “role-players” acting as civilians surrounding the wounded soldier. The civilians were yelling at the reservists as they worked to complete the task.

According to Sergeant Andrew Ellis, who has seen combat in Afghanistan, it is crucial to maintain a strong relationship with the civilian population in a war zone.

“Working with your local people is a very important aspect that should always be considered,” he said.

Sergeant First Class Matthew Helwer completed 3 tours to Iraq and 1 tour to Afghanistan from 2004 to 2008. He helped oversee the first training exercise at Fort McCoy on Monday.

He said he uses his knowledge gained from previous experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan to help guide the Army reservists he trains.

“I can’t help but jump in and when I see something, I throw in my two cents,” he said.

Helwer added that it is important for soldiers to respond to the enemy by instinct.

“You already had to train for it to become muscle memory,” he said.

On Monday, the second training exercise the reservists participated in involved responding to small arms fire and a simulated IED explosion.

Sergeant First Class Debralee Lutgen served in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. She said some mistakes were made in the second training exercise, but added that training is where mistakes should be made.

“We need to make sure these soldiers know what to expect,” she said.

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