FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Before soldiers are sent overseas into dangerous areas, the military needs to make sure they are ready for any situation.
For Warrior Exercise 86, it means they need an enemy.
July 24, 2013 - Pfc. Kelsie Humphreys and Spc. Veronica Montoya are searched by Spc. Megan Shank and Spc. Melonee Nowakowski on Forward Operating Base EPW2 at Fort McCoy, Wis. Humphreys is an opposing forces player with the 678th Human Resource Command out of Charlotte, N.C., and native of Columbia, S.C., Montoya is an OPFOR player with the 678th HRC and native of Salisbury, N.C., Shank is a native of Rockville, Md., and a military police officer with the 352nd Military Police out of Rockville, Md., and Nowakowski is a military police officer, 340th MP Battalion out of Ashley, Pa., and native of Hamburg, Pa. OPFOR Soldiers are helping train MPs by attacking convoys and being processed as enemy prisoners of war, which allows the MPs to learn the proper way to do their jobs. The soldiers are taking part in Warrior Exercise 86 as a part of their extended combat training. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Francis Horton, 363rd Public Affairs Detachment)
“We're simulating different scenarios units would face overseas,” said Staff Sgt. Keith English, an opposing force player and native of Macon, Ga., with the 678th Human Resource Command out of Louisville, Ky.
The OPFOR players are at Fort McCoy, Wis., for their extended combat training.
OPFOR is filling in as insurgents in various roles, from attacking convoys to being processed as enemy prisoners of war, English said.
“Up until now, we weren't prisoners. We were OPFOR, but we were just (simulating) killing people,” said Spc. Bryan Wendelberger with a laugh from behind a fence lined with barbed wire.
He is a native of Orlando, Fla., and OPFOR player from the 689th Engineer Company from Orlando, Fla.
Every day, the OPFOR soldiers are given briefings on where they are training and how to act, said Wendelberger.
“(The briefing) gives us an idea of what we're supposed to behave like, things we're supposed to look for that the (Military police) should be covering,” said Pfc. Kelsie Humphreys, OPFOR player, 678th HRC and native of Columbia, S.C.
But soldiers also bring their own experiences to the training.
“We do a lot of briefings, a lot of walk-throughs of different scenarios, and we rely on a lot of our military background,” English said.
“Our unit's only been back from Afghanistan for about a year, so we have a lot of experience with what we're trying to teach them,” said Spc. Bradley Wheeler, OPFOR player, 689th Engineer Company, and native of Orlando, Fla.
OPFOR aren't the only players putting soldiers through their paces. The U.S. military also hires civilians to play local nationals in the various training villages peppered across the Fort McCoy area.
“These are all local hires,” said Ken Plato indicating a crowd of civilians protesting at the front gate of Forward Operating Base EPW 2.
Plato is the site leader of Fort McCoy for Valbin Corporation, a company contracted to hire civilians for these training missions.
One contracted civilian has a very personal reason to work closely with training soldier.
“Saddam killed 4 million in my country, including my brother, my uncle,” said Hussain Ali, a contracted civilian with the Valbin Corporation.
He has been working as a contracted civilian at Fort McCoy for eight years.
“This is my way to say thank you,” Ali added. “I feel I have to do this.”
Regardless of background, the contracted civilians are more than happy to help.
“All of these contractors are really very proud of what they do because they feel like they are accomplishing a purpose and helping soldiers get ready for deployment to areas of the world that aren't really friendly towards us,” said Plato.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Francis Horton
Provided through DVIDS
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