Fort McCoy News March 13, 2015

Post builds cold-weather training capability

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

A cold-weather training equipment package is being built with new items to improve Fort McCoy's training capability.

The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) will issue the training package, which includes sleds, military all-terrain skis, ski poles, snowshoes, tents, and tent heaters. Snowshoes and ski poles already have arrived. The equipment package does not include cold-weather gear, which will be issued to troops through the Logistics Readiness Center's (LRC) Central Issue Facility.

photo
Marines from Marine Air Control Group of Great Lakes, Ill., stop to view Trout Falls while practicing snowshoeing at Pine View Campground Feb. 25 as part
of an effort to test cold-weather training equipment purchased by the
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

"After many years of training that was focused on the Middle East, the Army is getting back to full-spectrum, decisive-action operations, which means we have to have the ability to go anywhere in the world, to include cold-weather environments," said DPTMS Training Division Chief Ed Carns. "The Army needs that capability, and developing this training package is an effort for us to provide a place for that training."

Conducting cold-weather operations at Fort McCoy is nothing new, Carns said.

"The post has hosted cold-weather training as early as 1943, when it was one of five designated training sites used to prepare Soldiers for the extreme cold-weather locations," Carns said. "Fort McCoy continued to serve as a main cold-weather training site well into the 1980s, hosting numerous winter annual training periods and exercises."

Conditions at the installation are ideal for cold-weather training, as well, Carns said. Onaverage, Fort McCoy has snow cover and extreme cold from November through March.

"Fort McCoy is one of the coldest federal installations during the winter months, so it makes sense to have this kind of training take place here," Carns said.

To learn more about the best types of equipment to purchase, Carns said DPTMS and LRC follow the lead of U.S. Army Alaska and the Northern Warfare Training Center (NWTC) of Fort Wainwright, Alaska. In February, Carns attended a cold-weather symposium in Fairbanks. In March, DPTMS Training Support Officer Rob Weisbrod and a colleague will visit NWTC facilities.

"Fully building this capability will take more time," Weisbrod said. "One of the things we plan to research heavily during our trip to Alaska is to see how they maintain and store their equipment. More specifically, we want to see the facilities they have for storing and drying cold-weather tents after use."

Not all of the new equipment has arrived at the installation. Marines from the Marine Air Control Group (MACG) 48 of Great Lakes, Ill., however, tested the new snowshoes and ski poles in February on Fort McCoy's North Post.

"We worked with Fort McCoy to test the snowshoes," said Cpl. Kofi Blateng, a logistics and embarkation specialist for MACG 48.
"We first used the new ones, then compared them to the old ones we used for our winter-training exercise. Once our training was done, we provided a report to Mr. Carns on what we learned."

The work to build the cold-weather training capability aligns with the Fort McCoy strategic objective to maintain and expand the installation's military-training customer base, Carns said.

"We provide an environment that is ideal for training," Carns said. "I believe in the future we will see an increase in active- and reserve-component forces coming to Fort McCoy specifically for winter- and cold-weather training."

For more information about Fort McCoy training objectives, call the DPTMS Training Division at 608-388-5038.