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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Soldiers Learn Arctic Survival from Northern Neighbors

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

MANNING PARK, B.C., Canada — Lights from headlamps in the distance dart across the blue snow horizon, mirroring the shooting stars above in the brilliant Canadian winter night sky. Through the darkness, Canadian Army Reserve Soldiers lead the way towards camp, breaking trail with their snowshoes through six feet of untouched snow.

Nearly 40 Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, traveled to British Columbia, Canada, Jan. 24-28, 2019, to participate in the Westie Avalanche Exercise alongside the Royal Westminster Regiment (RWR), 39th Canadian Brigade Group (CBG).

Westie Avalanche is an introduction to arctic warfare focusing on winter survivability, cold weather tent operations, and light infantry winter mobility. The purpose of the exercise is to build winter survival skills while cultivating relationships between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

“Through active participation in light infantry engagements we continue to build our ability to conduct our mission in any environmental situation alongside partner NATO nations,” said Oregon Army National Guard Lt. Col. Kyle Akers, commander, 2-162nd Infantry Battalion.

Akers emphasized that 2-162nd Infantry Battalion Soldiers must be effective and ready to serve in any condition or terrain. However, Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers don’t often get a chance to train in adverse winter conditions, an environment Canadian Soldiers are familiar operating in.

“It’s one thing to be able to tactically operate, but it’s another thing to be able to sustain yourself throughout prolonged operations in arctic conditions,” said Canadian Army Reserve Maj. Greg Chan, commander of Alpha Company and operations officer for the RWR. “We thought it would be a good exercise to invite elements of 2-162 up here and showcase some of the skills that we have and share our knowledge with you.”


Canadian Lt. Col. Chuck MacKinnon, commander of the RWR, emphasized the importance of understanding different interoperability perspectives.

“The U.S. is our partner and the reality is we both end up operating together in places around the world,” said MacKinnon. “Our armies are now intermingling so much, and what I found overseas is that we approach the same problem with two different perspectives. Understanding what we both bring to the picture and how we think differently is a huge advantage.”

The Oregon and Canadian Soldiers gained real-world interoperability experience by fully integrating with their peers. Each Oregon Soldier was paired with a Canadian Soldier to encourage the exchange of knowledge and skills.

“With Soldiers on both sides being integrated, they’re more likely to learn those different perspectives in a very short period of time,” said MacKinnon. “They both get to understand the different language we have: cultural references, acronyms, and terminology, having different equipment, understanding how the different command and rank structures work.”


The Canadian and U.S. Soldiers worked shoulder-to-shoulder and camped together in combined ten-man infantry squads, known as toboggan or tent groups.

“They all integrated at every level and I think there was great sharing of information,” said Chan. “They [U.S. Soldiers] got to experience some of what Canada has to offer, but also learned a lot of the critical Soldier skills to survive in a winter environment.”

Oregon Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eric Givens, training noncommissioned officer with Delta Company, 2-162nd Infantry Battalion, said the Oregon and Canadian infantrymen worked really well together.

“It was just as if we were Canadians,” said Givens. “Being integrated into their daily operations felt like I was part of the Canadian Army.”

The Oregon Guard Soldiers spent the first day of training, Jan. 25, at the Chilliwack Armoury becoming familiar with the Canadian Army’s arctic tent/toboggan kits, and learning proper procedures for tent group operations.

“They were open to informing and teaching us; giving us ample time to get hands-on experience with their equipment,” said Givens.

The Soldiers received classes on cold weather clothing and gear in which the objective is to stay comfortably COLD: Clean, Overheating (avoid it), Layered, and Dry. The forecast for the weekend predicted highs around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and lows dipping down below 20. The Soldiers packed their rucksacks and assault packs in preparation for their frozen adventure, only taking what they could manage to carry on their backs.

“You pack to survive, but you also have to count out your weight per pound,” said Givens. “You have to decide if you want to be uncomfortable while moving, carrying more weight, or uncomfortable while stationary and packing fewer layers and thermal barriers.”

On Friday evening, the Canadian-U.S. formations were bussed to E.C. Manning Provincial Park where they had to establish a hasty campsite. The Canadian Soldiers blazed a trail through the snow with snowshoes and toboggans as though they were walking on clouds. The Oregon Soldiers’ boots sank deep through the soft snow as they were weighted down with heavy rucksacks.

“We were all cold and tired, but we laughed and made jokes about it, and at that moment you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Givens. “As infantry Soldiers, there was camaraderie in sharing the misery of being cold together.”


Together, the U.S. and Canadian Soldiers worked under the cover of darkness to stake down their tents in the snow and set-up camp. Relief from the cold finally came when the tents were up, the stoves and lanterns were lit, and the Soldiers could finally cram together in their sleeping bags.

“Even though we wore different flags, I was cold, and they were cold too,” said Oregon Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Dionicio Vega, with Charlie Company, 2-162nd Infantry Battalion. “Everyone was dying to get that stove lit and that was our most important task. Once it was lit, there was a level of comfort and peace that came over.”

The Soldiers didn’t stay “cozy” for too long. Tag, “you’re it” … as their buddy woke them up in the middle of the night for a turn at pulling fireguard, manning the stove and lantern. That “tag” from their buddy came again too soon the next morning as they were woken up early to begin the day’s events.

Over the course of the next two days, the units rotated through winter mobility training, including cross-country ski lessons and snowshoeing. Several Soldiers had experience downhill skiing and snowboarding, but many of them had never been cross-country skiing and were surprised to learn how strenuous it can be.

“Cross-country skiing really slowed us down,” said Vega. “I don’t want to do that again, but I was a real fan of snowshoeing and I will probably buy my own and pick it up as a hobby back home.”

Most of the Oregon Soldiers had never been snowshoeing before this experience. Their introduction to it was a 12-kilometer march along a steep, narrow path that winded around frozen Lightning Lake. Canadian and American Soldiers took turns hauling the toboggans up and down the peaks and valleys of the mountain path, shadowed by towering trees drooping with the burden of heavy snow.

“We were simulating an infantry movement, as close as possible, but without weapons,” said Givens. “The Canadians set the pace and we were hustling.”

There was little time to rest their aching muscles as the winter survival lessons continued on through the evening. Instructors from the 4th Canadian Rangers Patrol Group (4th CRPG) taught the Soldiers how to make a fire in winter conditions, tips for survival food, and how to construct snow shelters. The 4th CRPG assists the Canadian Armed Forces with national security and public safety missions in sparsely populated, coastal and isolated areas of Western Canada.

“The instructors training us in these techniques are some of the best in the world,” said 1st Lt. John Rohrer, intelligence staff officer for 2-162nd Infantry Battalion, who volunteered to lead the U.S. Soldiers for this mission. “It was some of the highest quality training, learning how to survive in arctic conditions from winter survival experts who work for the Canadian government in the far north.”

Part of the exercise included establishing a tactical bivouac in austere conditions. As the sun went down over the camp on Saturday night, January 26, the Soldiers were instructed to forego their tents and build their own survival shelters where they would be sleeping in the snow for the night. The sharp winter night air stung their lungs as they feverishly dug through the snow to make arctic beds.

“We were already in our tents warming up and finally getting a chance to eat, so we weren’t too excited to get back out in the cold,” said Vega. “But as soon as we got out there, all of us started working together on one task and we knocked out the first snow cave in 45 minutes. We immediately started working on another one.”

Vega said making snow shelters alongside the Canadian Soldiers ended up being his favorite part of the entire exercise because it was unique.

“Many of us were doing this for the first time and we only had 40 minutes of training on it,” said Vega. “We asked for the Rangers’ expertise and the Canadian sergeants’ experience and it felt good to know that we were doing it right.”

Clouds of steam hung in the air above their heads with every breath and every word spoken on that frigid, sleepless night. The goal was to build the Soldiers’ confidence, to recognize that they can endure extremely cold weather conditions.


“From a tactical perspective, it’s always good to enhance Soldiers’ skills and situational awareness in an unfamiliar environment,” said Rohrer. “You’re forced to learn a new skillset, such as awareness for how to manage and regulate your body heat. The more times you do that, the better you get at the mechanism of adapting and the learning curve won’t be as steep the next time.”

Givens, with ten years of service and two deployments (Iraq and Afghanistan), said he has a newfound confidence that he can operate in any conditions and any climate after this training.

“I feel like I can confidently challenge different weather and elevations now, and maybe even go backpacking in extremely cold weather at Mt. Hood or Mt. Bachelor,” he said.

The training was also a chance to develop and/or refine standard operating procedures (SOP) for winter operations. Soldiers representing every company in the 2-162nd Infantry Battalion participated in the exercise with the objective to take their new knowledge and experience back to their units and train others.

“Unknowingly, the Canadians taught us to trust our own equipment,” said Givens. “We never had the chance to use our [Extreme Cold Weather System] equipment to its full capability and this was the perfect opportunity to test it. So, I plan to develop a cold weather SOP with everything I’ve learned for the Soldiers in my unit.”

Working and living together in austere cold weather conditions, the U.S. and Canadian Soldiers discovered they have more commonalities than differences with their Pacific Northwest neighbors. Many of them made new friends that they plan to stay in touch with.

“The two militaries are pretty similar, at the end of the day we are just guys, doing the same job,” said Canadian Army Reserve Cpl. Riley Turner, with A Company, RWR. “Being around staff sergeants and seeing different leadership styles was a good learning experience. We worked well together and I made new friends [pointing towards Vega].”

Vega agreed saying, “We are the same, there’s really no difference. Two armies can come together. We may be different armies wearing different flags, but we all came together at end of the night joking about the same things and we overcame some stereotypes. So, I feel more Canadian and hopefully, Corporal Turner feels a little more American.”


The Oregon Soldiers said they want to continue this relationship with their Canadian partners and are looking forward to more opportunities to train with them again in the future. A sentiment the leadership in both the 2-162 and RWR also share.

“This unique opportunity and relationship will help posture our units for future engagements with our different platoons and companies across the formation,” said Akers. “We are committed to building readiness and an enduring, mutually beneficial partnership with the RWR and the 39th CBG.”

“It’s a great opportunity for members of the RWR to work with a partner nation and just be better infantry Soldiers and better prepared for future deployments,” said Chan. “The more interoperability training that we can do always benefits our troops. It helps them become familiar beforehand, so the first time we’re working together is not when we’re deployed overseas.”

This was the second time that the 2-162 Infantry Battalion and RWR have partnered-up for a bi-lateral training engagement. In April 2018, the two units jointly planned and executed a multi-day infantry exercise known as “Cougar Rage” at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

“These training opportunities have turned out to be very beneficial lessons for both organizations, as well as the troops participating. You can’t put a price on its value,” said Canadian Army Reserve Maj. Pavel Dudek plans officer for the 39th CBG. “We want to continue this relationship with our Oregon National Guard partners and expand on it. We hope it will be enduring in nature.”

By SFC Class April Davis

Airmen Test Resolve During Air Assault Assessment

Saturday, February 16th, 2019


Cadres from the 820th Base Defense Group (BDG) evaluated approximately 37 Airmen during an Army Air Assault Assessment (AAA), January 28-31, here.

The assessment measured each Airmen’s readiness to determine who would be selected to attend the 10-day Army Air Assault School (AAS), at Fort Campbell, Ky. The BDG is one of the few units within the Air Force that sends their Airmen to AAS to enhance their personal readiness and also reinforce their unit’s lethal capabilities.

“Everything we learn at AAS is a part of our mission scope within the BDG,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Groomes, 822d Base Defense Squadron (BDS) training instructor and cadre team member “It’s rare to find an Army school that’s curriculum falls under our umbrella, so the more experience we can get for our Airmen the better off the BDG can be downrange.”

The AAA provided Airmen with an opportunity to challenge themselves personally and to self-assess their physical and mental readiness to perform in high-stress situations.

“The reason I wanted to go to AAS was to test myself and to prove that I could get through something so difficult,” said Senior Airman Jeffrey Lewis, 822d BDS fireteam leader. “You always hear of how superior the Army Air Assault School is and how physical it is. I saw this as a milestone to achieve and an opportunity to improve.”

In order to be eligible to attend the school, Airmen have to complete a wide array of tests consisting of: rappel tower operations, ruck layout and sling load inspections, the Army physical fitness test, an obstacle course and finally a 12-mile ruck march.

“There are very few opportunities for Airmen to go to AAS and the BDG is one of the only units that gives their Airmen the chance to attend, so I wanted to take advantage of that,” said Groomes. “It’s a great opportunity for Airmen to [assess] themselves and learn what things they need to improve, not only physically, but mentally to push through.”

While still having to pass all proficiency tests, Airmen were required to perform constant remedial physical training throughout the duration of the assessment to test their physical and mental resiliency.   

“The biggest thing I needed, to get through (the assessment), was a strong drive and motivation,” said Lewis. “Being self-aware and keeping my mental composure through very intense situations was key.”

Cadres already know the physical and mental demands it takes to complete AAS, so during AAA they implemented strenuous measures to help simulate what an Airman should expect at Fort Campbell.

“We intentionally try to make the assessment more rigorous than the school to better prepare our Airmen for success when they arrive there,” said Staff Sgt. Ulysses Ortiz, 820th Combat Operations Squadron unit trainer and lead cadre team member. “We have very few slots at the schoolhouse, so we only want our most deserving Airmen to go.”

Of the 37 Airmen that started the assessment, approximately 10 were deemed qualified for AAS.

Upon completing the assessment, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Zavala, 822d BDS squad leader, explained what it took to finish the assessment and how attending Army Air Assault School will benefit not only himself but other Airmen’s careers in the future.

“The biggest thing it took for me to push through the AAA was just channeling that inner drive that motivated me to train so hard for it in the first place,” said Zavala. “I wanted to lead by example and Air Assault will add more tools to my toolbox, which gives me the ability to explain and elaborate those things to my Airmen coming in from [technical] school to help them succeed.”

By A1C Eugene Oliver, 23d Wing Public Affairs

GTGConsult Teams with RE Factor Tactical to Introduce Baseline Target to US

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

The Danish firearms training and consulting company GTGConsult has partnered up with RE Factor Tactical to bring their Baseline Target to the US market.

The GTG Baseline Target was designed to make it easier for recreational shooters as well as professional users to be efficient on the range, minimizing time spent on pasting targets while still upholding shot accountability and the ability to score.

To accomplish this the Baseline Target has a large number of individual target zones, and a single target can be used for approx. 200-250 rounds of quality training before being discarded.

GTGConsult has compiled a good selection of drills, exercises and tests developed and by leading firearms trainers, which are all specifically supported by the Baseline Target. These ‘Drill Cards’ are available as PDF downloads via their website and more drills are added regularly.

The GTG Baseline Target is available for individual or unit purchase in the US through RE Factor Tactical.

The GTG Baseline Target is available for individual or unit purchase in Europe through GTGConsult.

5th Annual International Police K-9 Conference & Vendor Show

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Choose from 48 K-9 training classes in Las Vegas, NV, March 5, 6, 7 – 2019.

Police K-9 Magazine is hosting their 5th Annual International Police K-9 Conference for Police & Military Working Dog Handlers next month. The Police K-9 Conference brings together world-class K-9 instructors, top-notch vendors, and over 800 attendees from all over the world over a three-day period. The conference features 48 K-9 courses, including seminars and interactive K-9 demonstrations. Topics include tracking, scent training, bitework, K-9 nutrition, narcotics detection, and integrated search strategies.

Courses include:
• Hard Surface Tracking Dogs with Tobias Gustavsson of Scandinavian Working Dog Institute
• High Risk K-9 Patrol Operations and K-9 SWAT Deployment – S.K.I.D.D.S./CATS with Brad Smith of Canine Tactical Operations
• Protecting our Profession with Lt. Scott Klappenback of Special Investigations Bureau’s Highway Interdiction Team
• K–9 Stress Inoculation Prior to Deployments with Rodney Spicer of Gold Coast K9
• Terms, Data, & Concepts that Every Explosives Detection Canine Handler Should Know with Kevin Good of Battelle
• And many more!
• For a comprehensive look at the schedule, visit the Police K-9 Conference Full Line-Up.

The vendor hall will house 62 top-notch vendors over a two-day period featuring the latest in K-9 technology and equipment, including apparel, communications and nutrition. See a list of 2019 Exhibitors here.

Our host hotel suites are available for only $67/night at the Tuscany Suites & Casinos. Book your room by Monday, Feb. 11 for the $67/night group rate. Hotel information here.

For more information on Police K-9 Cop Magazine, visit www.policek9magazine.com or call (270) 534-0500. Register today and receive 16 hours of continuing law enforcement K-9 education.

Arc’teryx Alpine Academy: July 4-7, 2019

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

The annual Arc’teryx Alpine Academy In Chamonix, French Alps is one of the most fantastic mountaineering clinics available. The downside? It’s during ISPO.

Over a period of four days, you’ll have access to 40 guided clinics, and more than 30 athletes. Immerse yourself into the 2019 Arc’teryx Alpine Academy, advance your mountain skills and share knowledge with like-minded people from all over the world.

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or expert, you will learn from mountain guides and world-class athletes including Nina Caprez (climber), Will Gadd (ice climber) and Ines Papert (ice climber/alpinist), Adam Campbell (runner) and skiers Thibaud Duchosal and Stian Hagen.

This year you can chose from a set of 40 different guided clinics for all types of mountain activities, skill levels and budgets.

• Mountaineering
• Climbing, ice climbing & bouldering
• Hiking
• Trail Running
• Ski-alpinism
• Photography
• Safety

There are also several educational clinics including Glaciology & Permafrost, Flora & Fauna, Bolts & Belays or Trail Maintenance. For everyone who wants to learn about, support and give back to the mountain environment and local community.

• March 7, 2019: All clinic details online
• March 20, 2019, 15:00 CET: Registration opens…First in, first served! – Clinics usually get sold out within the day.
• April 17, 2019, 15:00 CET: 2nd Chance to register


SureFire Field Notes Ep 40 – Getting on the Gun with Michael Baccellieri

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Michael Baccellieri discusses how to properly mount a precision rifle in the prone position.

Michael “Buck” Baccellieri grew up in the Pacific Northwest where he started his military career at age 17.  He joined the Army National Guard while still in high school, attending basic and AIT, and spent three years as an infantry rifleman. Upon completing a deployment to the Middle East, he cross-decked to the Marine Corps, where he spent four years as an infantryman, assault climber, CWSS swimmer, and Scout in an STA platoon. Baccellieri later returned to the Army National Guard, taking up a slot in a sniper section and, after completing sniper school, moving on to the role of sniper team leader. He finished his career as an instructor at the Fort Chaffee sniper schoolhouse in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Baccellieri now works for Leupold & Stevens, Inc., as the lead optics and firearms instructor for all military/LE training. He fills his time between classes by performing military business development for the Oregon-based company.

Combat Medic Training Integrates Sense of Touch

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Jan. 22, 2019 (Orlando, FL) Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS), an innovative provider of global workforce training services and solutions, works with HaptX, a visionary haptic technology firm, to provide enhanced military medical virtual reality training.

ECS has enhanced its Tactical Combat Casualty Care Simulation (TC3Sim) medical trainer to incorporate a sense of touch in training scenarios to improve realism and training by using the HaptX Gloves Development Kit an industrial-grade product for advanced simulation in virtual reality. HaptX Gloves enable users to experience virtual simulations with realistic touch feedback and natural interaction for the first time. This unique transformational training debuted at the Interservice/ Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), and subsequently, has been enhanced with even more realism that will be showcased at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) January 26-30, 2019.

Shane Taber, ECS vice president of operations/Orlando, explains: “Previously, VR training focused on learning through visual and auditory cues. The sense of touch has been missing, and by integrating the HaptX Gloves, Warfighters shift their perspective from the typical Virtual Reality interaction that uses a controller to click and interact, to more of a human-based physical approach of actually grasping an object or reaching out and touching a button with your finger. A medic can bandage a wound or administer CPR, perform highly tactile procedures, and immediately see and hear the effect; feel the weight, the sensation, or movement of that action. We are excited to enhance the medical teams’ performance and improve their quality of training to allow trainees to learn more quickly and effectively with the integration of touch.” 

David Fahr, ECS software engineer adds: “We received amazing reactions at I/ITSEC. Military service members, corporate leaders, and others said this unique training experience was unlike anything they had experienced before. Incorporating this feedback, we improved on the items used and overall flow of the scenarios to allow interactions to happen in an easier manner and for a more fluid experience in training scenarios. In the future, ECS plans to add a tutorial scenario to introduce users to the experience and haptic feedback.”

ECS plans to continue researching and testing these technologies to continue improving relevant, innovative, and fully-supported capabilities for the U.S. Army Research Lab. Their plan will also demonstrate the capabilities of haptic technology to fill existing gaps in skills training and further the understanding of the perception of touch as a component of virtual training.

HaptX Gloves feature 130 tactile actuators that provide realistic touch across the hand and fingertips. Built with HaptX’s patented microfluidic technology, HaptX Gloves also deliver powerful force feedback and motion tracking with sub-millimeter precision. The gloves are usually combined with a VR headset to provide a complete training experience.


SHOT Show 19 – Mantis X-10

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

The upcoming Mantis X-10 is not only smaller and lighter than the current model (seen mounted), it will also provide recoil and holster draw analysis as well as the standard shot analysis Mantis is known for.

Look for the Mantis X-10 in March.