Fort McCoy trained a record number of military personnel last year

Fort McCoy trained more than 155,000 military personnel from Oct. 2014-Sept. 2015

It was a record breaking year for Fort McCoy as their training numbers hit a new high.

Fort McCoy is the largest military base in the state and a record number of our armed forces trained there last year, but the increase in trainees didn’t happen overnight.

When Fort McCoy’s training for their overseas mobilization mission ended in 2011, military leaders regrouped and shifted focus. Every five years, Fort McCoy officials come up with a strategic business plan to basically look for ways to improve its facilities.

And with 46,000 acres of land to train on and special use airspace, Fort McCoy has a lot to offer.

On Tuesday, the soldiers were on a mission to secure a police station so locals can vote.

But just like real-life, it doesn’t always go according to plan.

“We train them in the basic leadership so when they leave here they should be able to lead a small team in basic combat scenarios, clearing a building, pulling 360 securities and reacting to IED’s,” said Staff Sgt. Hadjistavropoulos.

But that type of training is only one of many offered at Fort McCoy.

“What we are well known for is our ability to provide training environment for joint military forces, as well as our multi-national forces, that come in for exercises,” said Brad Stewart, director of plans, training, mobilization and security at Fort McCoy.

From land exercises to air, Fort McCoy offers training exercises for all branches of the military.

“We will integrate the Army Reserve, National Guard, active duty, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, sometimes the coastguard and our interagency partners to come here,” said Stewart.

More than 155,000 people trained at Fort McCoy from Oct. 2014 to Sept. 2015. That’s a record for the largest military base in the state and that record-setting number of trainees helped boost the local economy.

“We are regionally looking at $14 million of discretionary spending these soldiers bring into the communities,” said Tim Hyma, executive director of Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are the third-largest economic provider to the community within Monroe County,” said Stewart.

“Their south post housing affects our school district, and they are building 56 more units out there, so those federal dollars impact the community a lot,”s aid Hyma.

And while the economic impact is clear, so too is the main mission of the fort: Making sure our men and women in uniform are as prepared as they can be.

“They have been trained, they have been through the experience and that muscle memory is what will save their lives in combat,” said Stewart.

Another aspect that makes Fort McCoy so unique is its location. Units can access it via air, highway, train or barge.

It also offers military units the opportunity to train in all four seasons, specifically winter. Stewart said equipment works differently in subzero temps than it does on a nice warm day so it’s important for units to work equipment in all types of weather.