Fort McCoy News March 13, 2015

Marines hold exercise at Fort McCoy

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 20 members of Marine Air Control Group (MACG) 48 of Great Lakes, Ill., participated in a four-day cold-weather training exercise on Fort McCoy's North Post.

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Members of Marine Air Control Group 48 of Great Lakes, Ill., line up in formation to begin over-the-snow mobility tactics and techniques Feb. 27 as part of cold-weather training at Fort McCoy.

The late-February exercise was led by two instructors from the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) of Bridgeport, Calif. It focused on over-the-snow mobility tactics and techniques to train members for operations in mountainous, high-altitude, and cold-weather environments.

"We taught them a very basic introduction to cold-weather operations," said Instructor Staff Sgt. Jaime Soto. "We taught them basic mobility on snowshoes and skis and how to best utilize the cold-weather equipment they were issued."

Soto said there was "just enough" snow cover to practice the snowshoe and ski familiarization. The sub-zero temperatures also helped. "We could have used deeper snow, but as far as the temperature, it was right on the mark," he said.

The Marines learned how to correctly carry a rucksack packed with skis, ski poles, and snowshoes along with personal gear. They also participated in pre-environmental training classes about cold-weather and mountain safety, survival techniques, warfighting loads and equipment, and cold-weather injury prevention and treatment.

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Marines on snowshoes trek across an open area on Fort McCoy's cantonment area.

"Unlike the Army, the Marine Corps doesn't have units that are specifically assigned to operate in cold-weather and mountain environments," said Gunnery Sgt. Marshall Cleveland, an MWTC instructor. "So, this training helps prepare Marines for those harsh, cold-weather environments they might find themselves in during an operation."

Maj. Andrew Carl, MACG 48 logistics officer, said the skills learned during training are valuable to a Marine's ability to "go anywhere."

"We came here to do this as a unit because we haven't done it in a long time," Carl said. "As Marines, we need to be prepared to fight in every climate. Also, Marines must always train and refine their warfighting skills, and this was another opportunity to accomplish that."

Gunnery Sgt. Jorge Sanchez, the supply and fiscal chief for MACG 48, recalled his first time completing cold-weather training.

"I completed that training, as an active-duty Marine, right here at Fort McCoy back in '92," Sanchez said. "We went from here to the MWTC, and then to Norway. In the training, you learn important things to remember, such as you still need to hydrate. Your body doesn't know as well that it needs hydration during cold weather.

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Marines practice using cross-country skis.

"You also learn that you need sunscreen because you can also get sunburn even though it's cold outside," Sanchez said.
Many of the Marines said they appreciate the proximity of Fort McCoy.

"Fort McCoy is just a short drive for us, and the training areas here are very good," Carl said. "Additionally, the Fort McCoy staff is very user-friendly and accommodating for everything we do."

Cleveland added, "I would recommend to other instructors at the Mountain Warfare Training Center to come (to Fort McCoy) to do this same type of training in the future."

For more information about Fort McCoy training, call the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Division at 608-388-5038.