Tactical Survival

What to expect from Marine Corps cold weather training ops

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Virtue)

Marine Corps training has to be one of the toughest things on earth. Since they are responsible for keeping us safe, they need extensive training in all sorts of environments because it is never certain where war will arise. Such training environments include jungle warfare training, wilderness training and the most challenging of them all, cold-weather training. Imagine being out in the cold for more than two weeks without a reliable source of heat, food and water. Marines have to endure worse during their training to prepare them for the future.

Learning Basic Survival Skills

The first and most important skill Marines are taught is always to remember where they came from. In the case where the Marines have no GPS, compass, or map, remembering the terrain around them can help identify their location. Often, Marines will be given missions that involve going deep into the snow where there exists no landmarks or human activity. This makes it hard to track where they are coming from or headed. If a rescue team has to be sent, the Marines will have to give hints of their surroundings. For instance, the Marines will report they are between two hills south of the river or something of a sort. A rule of thumb is that if you know where you are, you can know where you are headed.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Smith)

Starting a Fire Training

In the cold weather, the only way of surviving the night is to ignite a fire and sleep next to it so it can warm your vitals. There is nothing as horrible as freezing to death when there is something you can do to change the situation. To avoid such kind of tragedies, Marines have to undergo training on how to light a proper fire. While starting a fire will help keep them warm, they are taught to take safety precautions, lest they burn the whole vegetation. Just because it is very cold does not mean the trees and grass around you will not catch fire and spread to the whole area. Since protecting the environment is also a goal, Marines are always taught to light a fire in a cleared area, at least ten to fifteen feet from trees and other vegetation. Furthermore, the fire will help in food preparation 

Building Survival Shelters

With all the items Marines have to carry, there is no likelihood of them having building materials such as hammers. This is where improvising techniques come in. Without a shelter, the Marines will not last long; therefore, every one of them has to learn how to build a survival shelter. Since the area they are in experiences extremely cold temperatures, forming snow walls becomes the only option. Though cold, the snow walls will shield Marines from wind and snowstorms. After making the snow walls, they make a small tent using skiing shoes and a light blanket.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tanner Seims)

Learning Downhill Skiing Techniques

This skill comes in handy when embarking on long journeys on foot. Since the terrain in most cold areas is usually hilly, they have to learn to ski downhill successfully. Skiing is more or less like skating, but with the former, trainees have to use more effort to push themselves and bear the weight of the skiing boots. Mastering this skill can take a while, but they flow once the Marines are set. Skiing also makes the training enjoyable, as it is more or less like a hobby and not a punishment. The training is not always about the toughest things in life.