Vigilant Shield exercise brings Fort Drum Soldiers to Fort McCoy

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Story by Scott Sturkol on 11/20/2017
More than 100 Soldiers with 10th Mountain Division units of Fort Drum, N.Y., deployed to Fort McCoy in late October to participate in the emergency deployment readiness exercise Vigilant Shield 18.

According to U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, both of which sponsored the exercise, the exercise was designed to practice the rapid deployment of Soldiers to support protection of critical sites.

While at Fort McCoy, the Soldiers trained mainly at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, or CACTF, on South Post and at Range 6 on North Post, said Larry Richardson with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security's Range Scheduling.

CACTF Manager Tom Hoff with contractor Advanced Systems Technology said the CACTF complex is an ideal location for all types of training, including the urban-terrain training taking place during the exercise.
"The CACTF is set up to be as realistic a training environment as possible so the people who train here can train in ways that are as close to a real-world situation as possible," Hoff said.

The support buildings in the CACTF complex represent multistory residential, commercial, government, business, and industrial operations, Hoff said. Underground tunnel and sewer training areas also are on site. The complex includes a subway station building and a Structure Collapse Venue Site, which can support rescue training by firefighters and other emergency responders.

Range 6 is a multi-use live fire range that allowed the Soldiers participating in the exercise a change to complete the tactical site exploitation training and other training events, Richardson said. Both the CACTF and Range 6 were mainly used from Nov. 1-4.

As part of the exercise, Fort Drum Soldiers also went to White Sands Missile Range, N.M. According to an article by John Hamilton with White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs, more than 100 Soldiers deployed to the range.

"The training event included several different scenarios to help prepare the Soldiers for a possible mission that might take place within the U.S., and require close cooperation with police, local special security guards, and others that might not be as familiar with military operations, but still be in need of Soldiers and Army support," the article states. "For the exercise (at White Sands), the Soldiers conducted security sweeps and patrols, set up observation points and ran through specialized training scenarios that represented possible real-world occurrences the Soldiers might see on a infrastructure defense mission. Scenarios like suspicious persons, lost hunters, and guard shift changes were played out, giving the Soldiers a chance to practice handling situations that are likely to occur during a real domestic defense operation."

The Vigilant Shield exercise was the first of many for fiscal year 2018. And even though it was a smaller exercise, its success demonstrates the flexibility of the Fort McCoy team to successfully support any type of training at the installation.

"This training support system enterprise that we have at Fort McCoy comes together every year to work this training synchronization in a superb manner," said DPTMS Director Brad Stewart. "Everyone involved in this enterprise across the installation should be proud of the work that's been done."

Fort McCoy has supported America's armed forces since 1909. The installation's motto is to be the "Total Force Training Center." The post's varied terrain, state-of-the-art ranges, new as well as renovated facilities, and extensive support infrastructure combine to provide military personnel with an environment in which to develop and sustain the skills necessary for mission success.

Today, Fort McCoy has become the Army's premier Total Force Training Center for Army Early Response Force early deployers to meet the Army's operational demand requirements. Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy."

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