FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division is stationed in Alaska’s interior, where every winter temperatures drop to minus 50 degrees, and frequently colder, and at least 4 feet of snow covers everything for months.
Soldiers in Alaska participate in yearly training designed to maintain the critical skills required to operate in an Arctic environment, and prepare mentally and physically to operate safely and effectively in what is an inherently dangerous environment,
This training was previously referred to as Arctic Light Individual Training, and was a yearly requirement for all soldiers stationed in Alaska. For winter 2013 a new training program, the Cold Weather Indoctrination Course, was introduced and implemented by U.S. Army Alaska.
The program was reworked and expanded to reflect the new focus of USARAK’s Northern Warfare Training Center, where the training was developed.
“USARAK is no longer a light infantry-centric organization,” said Lt. Col. William Prayner, NWTC commander. “We needed a more relevant program, with better-defined objectives and more applicable name.”
The new program sets the conditions for USARAK soldiers to not just survive the brutal Arctic winter without injury, but to become confident and proficient enough to truly own the Arctic, said Prayner.
A proper respect for the environment and knowledge of the Army’s cold weather equipment is the baseline for CWIC 1 and 2.
“CWIC 2 is about gaining confidence in your equipment, getting ready for field operations,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Dameron, a CWIC instructor for the Brigade Headquarters Company.
“The cold doesn’t care who you are, what your rank is, or how long you’ve been in Alaska,” said Sgt. Christopher Rosa, a CWIC instructor for the Brigade Headquarters Company. “It will kill you if you aren’t prepared.”
CWIC is an integral part of re-establishing and expanding USARAK’s cold-weather capabilities, said Prayner.
“Soldiers have been surviving in the Arctic for years, now it’s time to not just survive, but thrive in this environment,” said Prayner.