By Debbie Gregory.
The Army Reserve is preparing 10,000 soldiers for major war with intensive training on machine guns and automatic grenade launchers.
Called Operation Cold Steel II, the first iteration spanned two months, from Oct. 12 to Dec. 15, 2017, at Fort Hunter Liggett, CA. During that time, the 79th Theater Support Command (TSC), hosted Task Force Coyote, training approximately 2,000 Soldiers on crew-served weapons including the M2 machine gun, M249 light machine gun, M240B machine gun and Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun. Soldiers in this iteration focused on ground qualification, expending more than 1.2 million rounds of ammunition.
The second iteration took place at Fort McCoy, WI, on Feb. 19, 2018. The third iteration began shortly after on March 1 at at Fort Knox, KY.
“Cold Steel benefits the (troop list unit Soldiers) by training them and giving them an experience that they most likely have never had in the Army Reserve or even in the history of the Army Reserve,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Freddy Trejo, Task Force Triad senior enlisted advisor, Operation Cold Steel II. “We’re putting weapons in their hands, getting them qualified, increasing their confidence as Army Reserve Soldiers and we are sending crews back to units completely qualified and trained.”
In addition to crew-served weapons qualification, an estimated 250 Soldiers are training as Vehicle Crew Evaluators. Newly-trained Army Reserve Master Gunner Common Core graduates are teaming with seasoned active-component Master Gunners to build the bench enabling units in the Army Reserve to conduct gunnery autonomously at the unit level.
The live-fire exercises are also a valuable opportunity for Army Reserve sergeants — the noncommissioned backbone of the force — to take charge of training again, after years of centralized, top-down preparation for Afghanistan and Iraq.
The soldiers will train and qualify on MK-19, M240B, M2 and M249 platforms mounted to various military vehicles, including Humvees, Medium Tactical Vehicles, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks, and Heavy Equipment Transports.
“Operation Cold Steel is designed to train Soldiers on a way to effectively acquire and engage targets on a mounted platform. This is something that has not been trained on in the Army Reserve in a while other than during (pre-mobilization),” said Staff Sgt. David Jenkins, operations noncommissioned officer, Task Force Cold Steel II.