Fort McCoy News Jan. 13, 2017

First Cold-Weather Operations Course planned

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

A two-week, proof-of-principle Cold-Weather Operations Course, or CWOC, is planned at Fort McCoy from Jan. 23 to Feb. 5.

The CWOC is the first of its kind coordinated by the Directorate of Plans, Mobilization, Training and Security, or DPTMS, said DPTMS Director Brad Stewart. It will include participation by 12 to 15 Soldiers with the 181st Multifunctional Training Brigade, who will be taught by two instructors contracted to support DPTMS.

"The intent behind the course, and the way we designed it, is that it's for junior leaders — from sergeant to captain — so they are ready to train their Soldiers when the time comes to utilize the Army's cold-weather equipment," Stewart said. "This (training) is so Soldiers are not only able to survive in cold-weather conditions, but also to fight, operate and maintain their equipment."

Marines with the Marine Air Control Group 48 of Great Lakes, Ill., practice snowshoeing at Pine View Campground to test winter-training equipment purchased by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security during a past training event at Fort McCoy.
Marines with the Marine Air Control Group 48 of Great Lakes, Ill., practice
snowshoeing at Pine View Campground to test winter-training equipment
purchased by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security
during a past training event at Fort McCoy. The snowshoes and poles were
among the first pieces of equipment purchased for use by units at Fort
McCoy for winter training.



Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Warehouse Supervisor Scott Huber inspects equipment that is part of the Fort McCoy cold-weather equipment training package Jan. 5 in building 495.
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Warehouse
Supervisor Scott Huber inspects equipment that is part of the Fort McCoy
cold-weather equipment training package Jan. 5 in building 495.

Cold-weather training is not new to Fort McCoy, said DPTMS Training Division Chief Ed Carns. The post 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. Fort McCoy continued to serve as a main cold-weather training site well into the 1980s and 1990s, hosting numerous winter annual training periods and exercises.

"(A lot) of this occurred prior to 9/11," Stewart said. "After that, units were on a constant rotational deployment cycle to … Southwest Asia. Until there was a drawdown in forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, cold-weather operations was not an area of emphasis."

Development of the CWOC began nearly two years ago when the DPTMS team started working with the Army's Northern Warfare Training Center, or NWTC, at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Stewart said.

Since then, DPTMS has developed an interim program of instruction for the course and sent the two course instructors — Bill Hamilton and Joe Ernst — to receive training at the NWTC.

Stewart said engagement with NWTC has been critical in building the CWOC. Carns has traveled to the NWTC previously and will attend the 2017 Winter Warfare Symposium in February.

"(The symposium) helps the Army shape its winter-warfare training equipment and task lists," Stewart said. "This is what Mr. Carns is heavily engaged with to help influence that policy and help Fort McCoy become a testing ground in addition to being a training ground."

Stewart said the NWTC also has agreed to have Fort McCoy serve as a primary "lower 48" training location for cold-weather operations.

"It's expensive to get to Alaska, they don't have a large capacity to train everybody, and (at Fort McCoy) we can focus on training reserve-component forces," he said.

"We can provide all that capability here with the oversight of the NWTC because they are the Army's designated cold-weather training center."

DPTMS' effort to build a battalion-sized cold-weather training equipment package coincides with the development of the CWOC. The training package, which is stored at building 495, contains many items, including 10-person tents, tent stoves, skis, snowshoes, shovels, saws, ahkio sleds, and more.

Stewart said the upcoming CWOC will not only provide an opportunity for Soldiers to test Fort McCoy's cold-weather equipment, but also help refine the course.

"The first course will allow us to check the timing for the length of the course, to check the level of training being provided, how the equipment is utilized and how that equipment does under stress and the cold," Stewart said. "We'll also be working through the program of instruction, validating it, and maybe making some changes. That's what this winter season is dedicated to."

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.

"In our five-year strategic plans from 2010-2015 and now from 2016-20, we wanted to increase training during the cold-weather months (October to March) at Fort McCoy," Stewart said. "As winter training increases here, it will be physically demanding, and it will train people to mentally prepare themselves."

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