USMC Force Recon
Recon Overcomes Alaskan Wilderness Challenge
AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (Mar. 13, 1998) -- Marines
have to be ready to deploy anywhere. As our hymn states,
"... In the snow of far off northern lands, to
the sunny tropic scenes ... " To be able to always
stay on the job, Marines must be trained in every
clime and place.
from 5th Force Reconnaissance Co., Headquarters and
Service Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force,
recently deployed here to experience cold weather
to Lt. Col. William C. Cook, commanding officer, 5th
Force Recon Co., the goal of the training was to build
each Marine's confidence in surviving in a cold weather
of this training package, Marines were taught the
basics of cold weather survival, skiing and snow shoeing,
and spent two weeks living in the field.
to Capt. John Kowatch, executive officer, 5th Force
Recon Co., this training provided the basic elements
needed for survival in the cold. "You can read
all you want about the cold," he said, "but
until you live in it, you don't know what it's about."
survival was summed up for the Marines with the COLD
class -- stay Clean, avoid Overheating, use Layers,
and above all, stay Dry.
dry involved learning to keep your balance on skis
and shoes so that you could stay out of the snow.
It also involved knowing your body and using appropriate
layers of clothing so you don't sweat.
People sweat as a way to cool their bodies through
evaporation. In a cold weather environment, the person
either becomes too cold during the evaporation process,
or the sweat freezes causing chill or frostbite.
Some Marines found it easy to stay warm with just
a few layers as long as they kept busy, but the cold
forced them to bundle up once they stopped moving.
layers were enough to keep me warm as long as I was
moving," said Cpl. Joe Luevano, logistics chief,
5th Force Recon Co. "Once I stopped, I had to
put on at least three layers to stay warm."
specialists were also taught the basics for skiing
and snow shoeing. Those who had skied before or were
quick learners were put into an advanced group to
work on tougher maneuvers, such as kick turns and
traversing downhill. Less-experienced skiers were
put into a beginners group, where they worked on the
basics such as slowing and stopping while going downhill,
and picking themselves out of the snow as quickly
to Lance Cpl. Carlos Snead, paraloft, 5th Force Recon
Co., this training used the crawl, walk, run method
because some of these Marines had never seen snow
or been on skis before.
was a good base for training," said Snead. "You
couldn't ask for better training."
had never been on skis before," said Lance Cpl.
Cyprian Johnson, Radio Team Operator (RTO), 5th Force
Recon Co. "This was a good experience for me.
I feel that I have the experience to survive if I
am put into a combat situation in a cold weather environment."
final week in the field, the Marines were broken up
into two Reconnaissance Observation Centers and three
forward teams that made their way through a long valley
on a 23-mile mission.
Each forward team was assigned to report all activity
going on throughout the valley, either by civilians
or the simulated enemy.
think this is the best cold weather training I've
ever done," said Sgt. Ron Holmes, RTO, 5th Force
Co. "I feel that we have scratched the surface
of what to expect during a cold weather conflict,"
According to Cook, this training evolution went well
and plans are in the works to do similar training