Minnesota unit ‘defends’ during training in CSTX 78-21-04 at Fort McCoy

September 10, 2021 (FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin) — In a garrison environment, human-resource specialists in the Army Reserve and National Guard are known for their office work and administrative tasks. On the battlefield, those same service members are Soldiers first.

And as Soldiers first, they may be required to perform base defense operations and more along with their other military occupational specialties.

“Typically, that’s not what people think a human-resources unit does. But it is very important for Soldiers to have basic Soldier skills. So this summer, we’re training a lot on those skills,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriela Marick, a human-resources officer with the 147th Human Resources Company (HRC) of the Minnesota National Guard.

Soldiers with the 147th HRC practiced responding to realistic training scenarios planned by observer-coach/trainers (OC/Ts) during the 78th Training Division’s Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) 78-21-04 on an improved tactical training base at Fort McCoy in August.

Capt. Takeisha Hunt, commander of the 147th HRC, said CSTX provided the opportunity for her Soldiers to practice skills they would need in case of deployment. They trained on skills including a postal mission, casualty liaison team mission, and various base defense missions that incorporated securing an entry control point.

Soldiers reacted to several indirect fire situations and learned how to respond to civilians on the battlefield, navigate convoy lanes, conduct military operations in urban terrain, and breach buildings, said Sgt. 1st. Class Patrick Kruse, an OC/T with the 3rd Battalion, 309th Regiment.

Kruse said he was impressed with how much improvement the 147th has made during the exercise.

“There’s no substitute for realism and training. … You practice like you play, and this kind of training is paramount to properly training Soldiers to go into country,” Kruse said. “What I’ve been most proud of with 147th is their communication plan. It’s amazing to see how creative … the units are and what they are capable of coming up with.”

Kruse said when Soldiers arrived and began setting up an entry control point, their communication plan was very rudimentary.

“They would essentially scream back and forth at each other, and now they have a very sophisticated communication plan that employs radios,” said Kruse.

After every training scenario, OC/Ts would facilitate conversations, known as after-action reviews, for Soldiers to discuss what went right and what improvements they could make in the future.

“(The OC/Ts) have been great. They’ve been providing constant feedback, and they’ve really challenged us with different scenarios and challenged us to think about things in a different way, outside the box,” said Marick.

One of the goals of CSTX is to empower junior leaders with the authorities and permissions they need to successfully lead and train their soldiers.

“I was the officer in charge of shift (at the entry control point) this morning, and there was a lot going on,” Marick said.

Marick’s team reacted to Soldiers playing the role of enemy forces, known as the opposition force, engaging in small-arms fire. Within minutes, she radioed the situation to the tactical operations center, gave directions to her team to return fire, gave medical support to injured civilians, and requested additional support from the quick reaction force.

“This is one of the more realistic trainings that I’ve ever experienced,” said Spc. Cheyenne Kumar, a human resource specialist with the Training Support Unit of Camp Ripley, Minn., who trained with the 147th HRC. “We even did a video simulation (…) where we actually got in the Humvees and drove around. If we saw enemies, then we would call it up to our chain of command, get out, and return fire.”

The 78th Training Division, in charge of this iteration of CSTX, focused on providing Soldiers with realistic training scenarios for the 147th HRC and thousands of other Soldiers from across the Army Reserve to prepare them to mobilize quickly and win the future fight.

“My Soldiers have taken on (base defense operations), and they just went right into that mission,” said Hunt. “I will say this is the highest moral that I’ve ever seen in a company, and I can’t attribute that to me. Just the fact that I have amazing Soldiers in my unit who are willing to follow me and first sergeant into any battle, whether it’s human resources or combat.”

Story by Staff Sgt. Brigitte Morgan, 354th Mobile Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office