CAMP ETHAN ALLEN, Vt. - As the sun shined in the bright, blue sky, Soldiers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Battalion trekked up and down hills and through deep snow as part of the battalion’s annual cold weather training held here, Feb. 21, 2009
During the three-day training session in the cold air of Vermont, recruits were challenged in a variety of training areas. First, was a mile-long snowshoe march through the hills where recruits learned to properly wear, and walk, using snowshoes.
Next was the Engagement Skills Trainer where the Soldiers got comfortable with the M-16A2, the standard weapon issued during basic training. At the EST, they learned the essential skills of basic rifle marksmanship such as: controlling breathing, acquiring the same site picture, and trigger squeeze. The recruits shot a mock M-16 at a screen which registered the shots so the instructor could council the recruit as to where improvement was needed.
Once finished with the EST, the recruits headed uphill on snowshoes until they reached the cold weather survival training site. Here they were instructed on the basic essentials a Soldier should carry when conducting cold weather missions. Atop the hill, they learned to construct a shelter and remain warm even on the coldest of days.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about cold weather survival techniques; doing it in the mountains of Vermont gives the warriors a bit more of an adventure being away from what they are used to,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Fiola, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company.
At the bottom of the hill was a nuclear, biological and chemical operations class where they learned how to properly wear their protective masks. This training showed the Soldiers how to put on their masks in nine seconds.
Along with the knowledge learned on cold weather survival, recruits also received training in drill and ceremonies and basic soldiering skills. Reinforcing these skills, with the help of a little corrective training, the recruits will become better prepared for their initial entry training and their military careers.
“It inherently gives all National Guard Soldiers an advantage to lead from the front off the bus at basic combat training. They know what they need to do and how to do it,” said Fiola.