Despite snow, freezing temperatures Basic Combat Soldiers keep training
February 13, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Below-freezing temperatures may have slowed operations last week, but Basic Combat Training kept moving right along.
As commanders watched the projected forecast for the week, plans were made to make sure trainees were still receiving the proper training.
?"Everything is risk mitigation. What is the risk for doing this training today? Now is doing that training worth someone getting frostbite?" explained Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Estep, 434th
Field Artillery Brigade CSM.
Estep said if the temperature outside plus the windchill equal -10 degrees then training is supposed to stop without the approval of the high-risk commander.
At -9 degrees outside, E Battery, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery had to qualify Soldiers on the range for graduation.
?"When we were looking at the weather chart, it showed a cloud with snow and then it showed a snowflake, but on Thursday it just showed a blue thermometer so we knew that was going to be bad," said Drill Sgt. (Sgt. 1st Class) Dominic Delgado E/1-19th FA.
On North Remote Electronic Target System (RETS) Range Feb. 6-7, those Soldiers were sheltered by the warmth of a heated building, until it was their time to qualify. Then they took their weapons and focused on their targets.
Delgado said despite the frigid temperatures, the Soldiers qualified as a whole slightly better than an average cycle.
?"They did better than we expected and I don't know if it was because they were focused to get it right the first time and get out, or what, but they did a lot better than we thought."
As for how long Soldiers can be exposed to sub-zero temperatures, Estep said it varies from Soldier to Soldier.
?"If I get a Soldier who just got here from Puerto Rico and then I have a Soldier who just got here from Alaska - one's going to be able to stay outside longer than the other. That's why the drill sergeant has to be very attentive about how long they keep them out there, what the Soldier says and take them for what they say," said Estep.
Back at the ?"starships," (instructional/living facilities) classrooms were filled with drill sergeants instructing Soldiers on different tasks that would prepare them for range time or field training exercises on warmer days.
?"[We're] drill sergeants, we're here to enforce the training. So, wherever the commander tells us to go, that's where we go. Nobody likes the cold, but we make the best of it. We keep [Soldiers] motivated. They're still being trained to standard," said Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Jason Chung, E Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery.
From dime wash drills, to mock ranges, to land navigation, to using the Laser Marksmanship Training System, each unit made the most of its time indoors.
?"I know our commander and first sergeant were already anticipating this weather so we already had this contingency plan. All the drill sergeants knew when they came in: first plan go to the range, alright that didn't work out, go to Plan B. Preplan[ning] definitely helps," said Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Ashley Whittaker, E/1-40th FA.
While each unit will reschedule time on the ranges and obstacle courses for thawed out days, Estep said the number one thing the weather affects is physical readiness training.
?"If we run on the roads here and if they have ice on them, then that's a hazard," said Estep. ?"We do push-up and sit-up improvement inside the classrooms within the starships, but the run is part of the PT test and for every day that they don't get to run that does affect some of the Soldiers in their ability to pass the PT test."
Maj. Paul Harrison, 434th FA S3, said although the weather has affected training frequently this winter, there has not been a cycle of trainees who has not graduated because of it.