Fort McCoy News Feb. 12, 2016

Equipment expands cold-weather training capacity

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Training Division's effort to build a battalion-sized cold-weather training equipment package nearly has reached initial-operating capability.

The training package contains many items, including 10-person tents, tent stoves, skis, snowshoes, shovels, saws, ahkio sleds, and more.

Photo 1
Warehouse Supervisor Scott Huber (right) shows Sgt. Yevheniy Andreyko
and Pfc. Adrianna Hurtado with the U.S. Army Public Health Command at
Fort McCoy how to put together a traveling kit using an ahkio sled in
building 495.

"We currently have more than 550 sets of snowshoes, 50 tents and 50 stoves, and 270 sets of skis to give you some idea," said DPTMS Warehouse Supervisor Scott Huber, who manages the warehouse in building 495. "Most of the pieces of the training package are here, and some of the equipment (100 sets of snowshoes) has already been signed out for use by troops for winter training."

The directorate began building the training package in early 2015 with the goal to equip 550 troops with everything needed to conduct cold-weather operational training at Fort McCoy.

DPTMS Training Division Chief Ed Carns said winter-warfare and cold-weather training is a growing capability at Fort McCoy, especially in the past few years. And, this type of training is part of the installation's history. "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," he 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 post often are ideal for cold-weather training, with snow cover and extreme cold typical from November through March.

Carns said the directorate plans to acquire more items to further build the training capability to support the needs of all service branches.

"We also are going to secure some (cold-weather) equipment unique to the Marines," Carns said. "Marines use a lot of the same equipment as the Army, but there are a few pieces of equipment they use for winter warfare that we do not right now. However, the Army is looking at getting the same type of equipment, so my intent is to secure it and have it here for personnel to use.

Photo 2
Snowshoe sets that are part of a Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security cold-weather training package are stacked on a pallet in
building 495 at Fort McCoy.

"It will be enough equipment to support a Marine rifle company," Carns said. "Marines also do a bit of winter training at Fort McCoy, too, so it makes sense."

The current training package features ahkio sleds, Huber said. An ahkio, a traditional, reindeer-pulled sled of the Lapland people of Finland, now is used for many purposes, including cold-weather expeditions.

"For our training package, the sleds are used to carry the tent, stove, fuel, and other equipment troops would need to go out to a site and set up a living and operations area," Huber said. "The ahkio sleds are a critical transportation piece for the whole training package."

In addition to the training package, Soldiers who come to Fort McCoy for training also can receive all of their required cold-weather gear through the Logistics Readiness Center Central Issue Facility (CIF). The CIF is a one-stop location for Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment issue, said CIF Property Book Officer Thomas Lovgren.

CIF-issued cold-weather gear includes items such as boots, neckwear, hoods, and a seven-layer extreme cold-weather clothing system.

DPTMS Director Brad Stewart said the cold-weather training capability is growing at Fort McCoy again because many units need to test capabilities in all types of environments.

"Everybody wants to operate their equipment in all sorts of weather conditions and we can provide that here," Stewart said. "When it comes to winter training, there's a balance you have to achieve. You have to find that balance between training and just surviving, and you have to learn both in that (cold-weather) environment.

"We want to provide the training environment and the tools, which is the cold-weather training equipment, and an operational live-fire capability," Stewart said. "As winter training takes off here, it will be physically demanding, and it will train people to mentally prepare themselves. And, it will help those (training troops) build confidence in knowing how their equipment is going to operate in that cold-weather environment."

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