News: Bravo-1 hikes Alaskan mountains
Story by Lance Cpl. Carson Gramley
FORT GREELY, Alaska - Marines and sailors with 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion recently made a Deployment for Training (DFT) trip to Fort Greely, Alaska, where they conducted various types of platoon training and joint service exercises, August 5-17.
During their stay in Alaska 1st Platoon visited the Northern Warfare Training Center, or NWTC, in the Black Rapids Training Site, where they embarked together on a two-day hike.
The movement took the platoon along steep rocky trails and up to a snowy peak at an elevation of 6500 ft. Each member of the platoon carried a pack weighing between 40 and 60 pounds, containing all the necessary items to sustain themselves overnight and help traverse the tough conditions.
The hike covered 10-12 miles and about 5000 ft. of elevation gain in an environment completely different to what the Marines were accustomed to, said Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Homestead, the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon.
“It enabled them to properly identify timelines and terrain analyses of those different environments; so if we encounter them in our deployment we can make more realistic timelines and gear requirements,” said Homestead.
Throughout the two days of hiking up hills and through mountain draws, the Marines encountered vast changes in weather conditions, terrain features and temperature.
“They had to go through the forest and the tundra near the lower parts of the mountain, and then it became a lot more barren and rocky as they got near the top. Ultimately they wound up in snow and a colder environment. The temperature changed from about 75 degrees all the way to 30 degrees with some rain and high winds,” said Capt. John Garlasco, 1st Platoon, platoon commander.
Among the rigorous mountain terrain was a river canyon about 200 ft. wide and 100 ft. deep for the platoon to maneuver across. The canyon was along a planned trail the platoon’s command and guides from the NWTC had chosen as part of the training.
“During the hike we wanted to hit a couple Tactical Rope Suspension Techniques, (TRST), so we had them fashion a one-rope bridge using our assault climbers and platoon mountain leader. We employed our schools that we’ve been to and our techniques to conquer a gap and move the rest of the platoon through,” said Homestead.
The hike was coordinated and conducted in a non-tactical manner. The platoon was granted the opportunity to maneuver the mountains and their unique obstacles as teams instead of one large group. The four teams moved independently but stayed within a close proximity of each other to maintain safety and command control.
“It allowed the guys to gain an appreciation for the terrain and test their abilities to make the movement, so it was really a team and platoon bonding event and a way to get out and experience Alaska,” said Garlasco.
Bravo Company is slated to depart with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit early next year and is using training like this to improve their ability to respond to any situation they may encounter in future operations.