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    Cold-Weather Operations Course training returns for 2021-22 in December at Fort McCoy

    Cold-Weather Operations Course training returns for 2021-22 in December at Fort McCoy

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | A Fort McCoy Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) Class 20-02 student, a Marine,...... read more read more

    The 2021-22 training season for the Fort McCoy Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) returns Dec. 1 with dozens of Marines to be trained in the course.

    The CWOC is modeled after the Cold-Weather Leader Course taught by the Army Northern Warfare Training Center at Black Rapids, Alaska. During training, students learn about a wide range of cold-weather subjects, including skiing and snowshoe training, how to use ahkio sleds and the Arctic 10-person cold-weather tent, and how to build improvised shelters. For each class, students start with classroom training and then move into various aspects of field training.

    For the first class of the 2021-22 season, Class 22-01, training will be slightly different than traditional course operations to accommodate dozens of Marines coming to Fort McCoy for the course.

    “So this season will start with Class 22-01 being dedicated to the 6th Marine Regiment,” said Hunter Heard, site lead and senior CWOC instructor with contractor Veterans Range Solutions supporting the Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, which oversees the training.

    “Phase one of that class’ training began with Joe and I going to Camp Lejeune (N.C.) to teach platform classes to approximately 150 Marines,” Heard said. “Phase 2 will begin when the Marines deploy to Fort McCoy on Dec. 1. We will then run three, three-day field training exercise courses with them from Dec. 1 to 9. Then, for the 6th Marines, their phase three will be a deployment to Norway. For us, we will receive one more group of Marines out of Cherry Point (N.C.) from Dec. 14 to 17 as well, and we will run them through a similar field training exercise lane like the first groups of Marines.”

    After the first CWOC class completes its training, the CWOC training team of instructors — Heard, Joe Ernst, Manny Ortiz, and Brian Semann — will also conduct five more 14-day training sessions of CWOC into March 2022.

    “We are still limiting the class sizes to 30 per class because of COVID-19 precautions, and we will still using face coverings in the classroom,” Heard said. “Otherwise, we will be back to mostly normal operations like we were two years ago.”

    For the 2020-21 season, hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and others were trained in cold-weather skills. And since the start of the course, thousands of service members have now trained in the course and have shared that knowledge with others they serve with, Heard said.

    “We’re starting out the season with Marines, but like previous years, we will have an all-service, Total Force presence with our training,” Heard said. “As word has spread about how Fort McCoy is a great place to hold this training over the years, we’ve had continued interest from active duty, Guard, and Reserve service members from all the military branches. CWOC training has truly become a Total Force training environment.”

    During the 14-day courses, students complete miles of ruck marching in the snow and cold, Ernst said. Sometimes students move in snowshoes and skis covering dozens of miles. Students also complete training terrain and weather analysis, camouflage and concealment, and risk management. They also learn about properly wearing issued cold-weather clothing and how to prevent cold-weather injuries.

    “An important part of the training and understanding operations in the cold weather is how to identify and understand what causes cold-weather injuries,” said Ortiz, who was a combat medic in the Army. “Continuing with this year’s training, we will again have training that will include scenarios on how students can respond to help a victim of hypothermia. This helps students build confidence and knowledge in understanding cold-weather injuries as well.”

    Overall, through every CWOC class, students have said the course training was beneficial. This includes students from the last class of the 2020-21 season. Pfc. Sara Huerta, a student with Higher Headquarters Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in Milwaukee, said the course helped her build on her Soldier skills and more.

    “This course taught me to be resilient,” Huerta said in March. “It taught me how to defend and protect myself in cold weather. I built special skills, including building a shelter, building fires, using rope in a variety of ways, and using other equipment.”

    Fire building and shelter building, which are core fieldcraft skills taught in the course, were also taught to CWOC Class 21-05 student Pfc. Caleb Rausch, who appreciated them.

    “Fire starting is a class that I want to teach at my unit,” said Rausch, who serves with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment in Waupun, Wis. “I also want to teach shelter building. … This course (overall) made me more equipped to survive in cold-weather situations.”

    Heard said it should be another great training season.

    “We’ve already started off with going to Camp Lejune to start teaching Marines early,” Heard said. “I think we’ll have another successful year getting troops familiar with operating in a cold-weather environment.”

    For more information about costs and special events at Whitetail Ridge, call 608-388-4498/3517. Information is also available online at

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

    Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.



    Date Taken: 11.22.2021
    Date Posted: 11.22.2021 11:57
    Story ID: 409780
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

    Web Views: 283
    Downloads: 0