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    Marines cite appreciation for Cold-Weather Operations Course training at Fort McCoy

    Marines cite appreciation for Cold-Weather Operations Course training at Fort McCoy

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | A squad of Cold-Weather Operations Course Class 20-01 students made up of Soldiers and...... read more read more

    Marines earn their namesake by completing some very difficult training, starting with 12 weeks in basic training and on from there.

    During basic, they learn how to use equipment and weaponry, about leadership and communication, and their physical fitness is tested over and over. Some of those same skills are taught in Fort McCoy’s Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC), except it’s all about being able to use those skills to operate in a cold-weather environment.

    “As a Marine assigned to an infantry battalion, field operations and exercises occur often. The skills learned in this course provided me a strong foundational understanding of cold-weather operations that I can pass on to other members of the unit,” said student Staff Sgt. Brian Daliege with the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines (2nd, 24th), which is an infantry battalion based in Chicago consisting of approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors. The battalion falls under the 23rd Marine Regiment and the 4th Marine Division.

    More than a dozen Marines were among the 38 graduates of the Cold-Weather Operations Course Class 20-01 in December. Like Daliege, many of them cited how much they appreciated what they learned.

    “The best parts of this training was in the field,” said Lance Cpl. Tylor Guenzler, also with the 2nd, 24th. “The skills I learned that I and can bring back to my unit include how to properly dress in a cold-weather environment, and more. The snowshoeing was rough. … It took time to get used to it. And shelter building was tough and took time and patience.”

    Led by instructors Hunter Heard, Manny Ortiz, and Joe Ernst with contractor Veterans Range Solutions, which works with Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security, the course trained the 14 Marines and other CWOC students for 14 days in a variety of cold-weather subjects.

    Students completed snowshoe training and skiing, and they learned how to use ahkio sleds and the Arctic 10-person cold-weather tent and to build improvised shelters. Their training also focused on terrain and weather analysis, risk management, proper cold-weather clothing wear, developing winter fighting positions, camouflage and concealment in a cold-weather environment, cold-water immersion reaction and treatment, and injury prevention.

    “The Marines in my unit aren’t really trained to survive in cold weather at all,” said Lance Cpl, Rodolfo Juan Gonzalez Jr., also with the 2nd, 24th from Chicago. “So all of the essential skills we learned and were tested on in the field will make me and the others a more combat-effective Marine. … This course has boosted my confidence, immensely.”

    Lance Cpl. Mark Rivera with the 2nd, 24th of Chicago said learning about the correct uniform wear in cold weather, building the Arctic 10-person tent, and working as a team of with Army Soldiers and fellow Marines were exceptionally beneficial.

    “The instructors gave details on everything we did and how it all ties together,” Rivera said. “Everything in this course was great.”

    Cpl. James Mayenshein with G Company of the 2nd, 24th in Madison, Wis., said learning to build improvised shelters was what he enjoyed most.

    “That was the best part of the course, especially because you had to make shelters with resources found in the environment you are in,” Mayenshein said.

    During the time the course took place from early to mid-December, Fort McCoy received several inches of snowfall and many days included near bitter cold temperatures.

    In that same time, students carried rucksacks filled with 30-plus pounds of gear while wearing snowshoes and pulling an ahkio sled with even more gear during a trek of nearly 40 kilometers in varied terrain. Many of the Marines said Fort McCoy was a great location to train.

    “Fort McCoy has pretty diverse terrain and can offer a wide range of training opportunities,” said Lance Cpl. Ray Dahlke, also with the 2nd, 24th’s G Company in Madison. “Having it get very cold here in the winter helps too.”

    Daliege said, “Fort McCoy is a great location geographically for this training as it provides the required climate and weather and is close for many Marine Reserve units.”

    More Marines completed training in CWOC Class 20-02, and even more will be part of more classes through March.

    “This course was worth it,” Gonzalez said. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and was pushed to be better.”

    Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

    The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”



    Date Taken: 01.16.2020
    Date Posted: 01.16.2020 11:17
    Story ID: 359387
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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