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    50 Airmen train in winter tactics, skills during January Cold-Weather Operations Course at Fort McCoy

    50 Airmen train in winter tactics, skills during January Cold-Weather Operations Course at Fort McCoy

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Airmen with multiple Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve security forces units...... read more read more

    Fifty Airmen with multiple Air National Guard security forces units completed a 16-day Cold-Weather Operations Course in mid-January at Fort McCoy in a training effort led by Air Force security forces instructors.

    Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Harvey, security forces manager with the 164th Mission Support Group, 164th Airlift Wing, at Memphis Air National Guard Base, Tenn., helped get the training organized. Harvey had previously trained in Fort McCoy’s version of the Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC).

    He said holding an all-Air Force version of CWOC at Fort McCoy in 2023 made sense. The 16-day course his team of instructors is teaching is reflective of the former Fort McCoy CWOC course that ended in the spring 2022.

    “We actually had to turn away people for this session because there was so much interest,” Harvey said. “We’re glad to come here and hold this course.”

    Tech. Sgt. Michael Samsa, one of the instructors supporting the training who’s with the 164th Security Forces Squadron at Memphis, said they goal was to teach a wide range of cold-weather skills and tactics during the course.

    “We're teaching how to use an ahkio sled, how to use thermal shelters, how to traverse rugged terrain with snowshoes and ski poles and be able to sustain operations in these types of cold-weather environments,” Samsa said.

    For training with the sleds and the snowshoes, all the students spent dozens of hours in five squads of 10 Airmen each pulling an ahkio sled in snowshoes in the field. This training, Samsa said, helps them better understand the equipment and understand terrain analysis as well as squad movement.

    Each Airmen also practiced setting up Arctic 10-person tents during training. Each Airmen received approximately 12 to 16 hours overall with the Arctic tents, including while bivouacking. Tents are stowed inside ahkio sleds as they moved from one training area to another. The Airmen also learned how to set up heaters for the tents and how to prepare an area to set up the tents.

    Training also focused on weather analysis, risk management, cold-weather clothing, developing winter fighting positions in the field, camouflage and concealment, and numerous other areas that are important to know in order to operate in a cold-weather environment, Samsa said.

    Samsa said coming to Fort McCoy in January to get this specialized training is good for Air Force security forces Airmen.

    “It's given us a chance to get in contact and rub elbows with the wings all the way across the United States,” Samsa said. “And McCoy just has really been really receptive to all the training and letting us pick up this course and build camaraderie across the wings in the Air National Guard.”

    Samsa said there were quite a few Airmen participating in the training who “never really experienced anything like this,” and that the training proves to be a good experience for everyone involved.

    “It’s good to build the knowledge and the capabilities like this because then we’ll be able to deploy effectively to austere environments that may be covered in snow or anything like that,” Samsa said.

    Samsa added this kind of training isn’t the typical Air Force training venue, but it’s definitely good for any Airman to go through.

    “It builds that resiliency, that toughness, and that confidence in our Airmen that they don't usually get,” Samsa said. “And of course, it could be other career fields other than security forces. It could be across the board. It’s good training.”

    In past cold-weather training at Fort McCoy, Harvey said the information Airmen learned and then shared with their units has been good for his troops.

    “In the first class where the Air Force attended, I was a student,” Harvey said. “The information we received was great information, such as learning to (operate) in a cold-weather environment like Arctic or sub-Arctic weather. In this training, you learn how to properly wear the (cold-weather) uniform and use the equipment. … You’re learning how to operate in this cold environment and use snowshoes, … how to ruck, and how to set up a base camp in these conditions.”

    Harvey added that courses like CWOC are good for Air Force security forces because it also allows them to practice their core skills as “Defenders.”

    “In security forces, we pride ourselves in being on the ground and operating with ground combat skills,” Harvey said.

    From building Arctic tents, to snowshoeing, to jumping in for cold-water immersion, Samsa said the training at Fort McCoy was great. “I’m glad we could be here to do this training,” he said.

    Similar training environments offered within the Air Force take place at the Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., through the 421st Combat Training Squadron and the center’s Expeditionary Operations School, Airmen can train in contingency response, fieldcraft, security forces, and other training. Learn more by visiting

    Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.”

    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 nearly every year since 1984.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”



    Date Taken: 01.24.2023
    Date Posted: 01.24.2023 16:58
    Story ID: 437173
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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