Military News

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Innovative training benefits Soldiers, community alike



July 15, 2015
Master Sgt. Paul Gorman
115th Fighter Wing

Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 724th Engineer Battalion joined business owners, civic leaders, and community members from the Mosinee, Wisconsin area June 14 to celebrate the start of a construction project more than five years in the making.

As part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program, the Wisconsin Soldiers will help construct the Mosinee Community Athletic Complex. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the multi-phase construction project will include eight new baseball/softball fields, two football/soccer fields, two tennis courts, a basketball court and concession stands.

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, attended the ceremony to offer his appreciation to the Mosinee community for the opportunity to demonstrate the considerable skills and capabilities the Army National Guard is capable of bringing to bear within the state.

Capt. Benjamin Krall, 229th Horizontal Engineer Company commander, took a moment to recognize the value inherent in community engagement.

“If we didn’t have events like this, we’d wind up getting our training at sites like Fort McCoy, where we’d just push the same dirt over and over,” Krall said. “Here our Soldiers receive excellent training, but also get the chance to interact with both outside agencies and their own communities.”

According to Krall, the greatest benefit may lie in the end result. IRT projects create an end product that military members can take ownership of and pride in, years after the work is done.

“Simply put,” Krall said, “it’s good for morale.”

The roughly $5 million complex was little more than a concept in 2008. According to Wisconsin Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jessica Maple, converting 50-plus acres of field and forest into a local sporting complex seemed a nearly impossible feat.

A member of both the Mosinee school board, Maple discussed the project with her husband, a drill status Soldier himself, before opting to reach out to the Army National Guard for assistance.

Maple’s decision paid off when Capt. Kyle Gruber, 829th Engineer Company commander, recognized the possibility of submitting the request as an Innovative Readiness Training opportunity — a project which enhances unit training and readiness while fulfilling a community need.

Despite delays resulting from multiple military deployments, the combined efforts of the Mosinee School District, Mosinee Community Athletic Association and Midwest Engineering firm REI resulted in the formal submission and ultimate approval of the athletic complex as an IRT project for the Wisconsin National Guard.

Mosinee School Board President Cory Tomczyk, headed up the community athletic association when the project first began. “There was a lot of doubt as to whether the MCAA could make this happen,” he recalled, “and we couldn’t have without the National Guard. There’s simply no way.”
               
Amid the sound of heavy construction equipment, Tomczyk relayed the tremendous benefits the complex will provide.

“I can’t begin to tell you all the things it’s going to do for the sports community,” Tomczyk said, “or the community as a whole.”

Upon its scheduled completion in 2020, construction of the Mosinee Community Athletic Complex will have provided Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers with more than 38,000 man-hours of critical career training over a five-year period, becoming one of the largest examples of Innovative Readiness Training in state history.

Components of the 724th Engineer Battalion contributing to the project include the 949th Engineer Detachment from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin for survey and design support; 229th (Horizontal) Engineer Company from Prairie du Chien and Platteville for earth leveling, parking improvements, roadway construction and general landscaping; 829th (Vertical) Engineer Company out of Chippewa Falls, Richland Center and Ashland to support the blocking, plumbing, electrical and general carpentry of field lights, bleachers, concession facilities and announcement stands; and the 924th Engineer Detachment from Chippewa Falls for project oversight and work schedule management. Additionally, the 1158th Transportation Company from Black River Falls will transport heavy equipment to and from the construction site.

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