News: Arctic Wolves graduate Northern Warfare Training Center’s inaugural Master Arctic Trainer Qualification Course
Story by Sgt. Michael Blalack
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based here attended the Northern Warfare Training Center’s inaugural Master Arctic Trainer Qualification Course at Fort Wainwright and the Black Rapids Training Site, south of Delta Junction, from Oct. 13 to Nov. 8.
Thirteen Arctic Wolves graduated as certified instructors in a variety of tasks and operations in a cold weather environment including cold weather injury and prevention, effects of cold on military equipment, cold weather risk management, and land navigation in a mountainous/arctic environment.
This is the first Master Arctic Trainer Course the NWTC has offered. Prior to this, only a Winter Instructor Course to certify NWTC instructors was conducted.
“The concept behind this test course was to train and certify NCOs who are Masters of the Arctic,” Maj. William Prayner, NWTC commandant said. “These leaders will then possess the knowledge to advise their commanders on arctic operations, and supervise unit Arctic Light Individual Training.”
Fort Wainwright is located in Alaska’s interior, where the temperature reaches 30 degrees below zero or colder in the winter. Soldiers in Alaska train and operate in these extreme temperatures for six months out of the year, and mastering the skills to not only survive, but accomplish their mission is an essential part of being an Arctic Warrior.
As new subject matter experts in the area of extreme cold weather, the graduates of the course are expected to go back to their battalions and pass along their knowledge and experience.
“After the soldier has been trained they share the information with other soldiers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Pedro Chavez, an instructor at the Northern Warfare Training Center, “but they also share it with civilian friends and family members, thereby informing and strengthening the community as well.”
Instructors at the NWTC must pass a six- to eight-week winter certification course and an eight-week mountain course yearly.
Instructors are also able to receive further training on avalanche search and rescue and emergency medical technician skills.
“This is a unique opportunity to reclaim our Arctic skills.” Prayner said, “We also appreciate the support of the 1-25 SBCT command team in training their leaders.”
The physically demanding five-week course received positive feedback from all the students as well as suggestions to add a sixth week of more practical field exercises.
“We are working to improve and refine the course for next year,” Prayner said. “The plan going forward is to train 16 students a year.”
“It’s not only an arctic qualification course; it’s a leadership development course,” Chavez said. “All of the graduates from the MAT-QC are certified as instructors. They learn how to prevent and treat cold weather injuries, conduct cold-weather risk mitigation and planning considerations for movement in an arctic environment.”
“It was a phenomenal course,” Prayner said. “We expect this investment to significantly enhance the Arctic Wolf Brigade’s aggressive training plan this winter and far into the future.
“I believe that the cold and mountainous terrain is the most difficult environment to operate in. Soldiers and units that master that environment will excel in any climate or on any terrain.”
This work, Arctic Wolves graduate Northern Warfare Training Center’s inaugural Master Arctic Trainer Qualification Course, by SGT Michael Blalack, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.