Biathlon march
Birch Hill looms ahead as 73rd Eng. Co. Soldiers begin the march up the hill toward the biathlon range.

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - "Soldiers have got to be tough," to be mission ready, said Capt Scott Katalenich, company commander of the 73rd Engineer Company. Soldiers from the 73rd proved to themselves as well as their commander and first sergeant that they are tough and ready for whatever mission the Army calls on them to do by participating in biathlon training last week.

The training started with Soldiers doing a ten kilometer march up Birch Hill carrying up to 50 lbs of gear. When they reached the top of the hill about two hours later they didn't get much time to rest. Instead they changed into cold weather gear, put on their Improved Outer Tactical Vest, chose snowshoes or skis and continued on to the firing range, which was about two kilometers down the path. Once they were there, they shot their M-4s from three positions.

The purpose of the training was to teach soldiers how to react under high adrenaline situations said 1st Sgt. Derrick Brown, company first sergeant. After completing the ruck march and getting out to the range, Soldiers were able to shoot while their heart rate was still elevated.
Katalenich said that this was also an opportunity to confirm their zeros and gain confidence that the training they had done on the range a few weeks ago could be applied to a different set of conditions. Soldiers then completed the training exercise by marching ten kilometers back to the starting point.

Brown said that there are some soldiers who had not had a lot of experience with cold weather climates. While they had done some training prior to this to prepare them Brown said "actually doing it is the key... it was real good stuff to build them up."

Soldiers for the most part enjoyed the change of from traditional training "We are up here doing some high speed training, conducting a 20 K road march, along with a stress fire exercise," said Staff Sgt. Jaroslaw Markiewicz, a squad leader with the 73rd. "You know, with the cold out here, it definitely is a challenging event. Soldiers are having a good time. They're prepared and ready to rock and roll."

Katalenich and Brown agreed that the soldiers got a lot out of this training. Brown believed that the Soldiers learned self confidence, teamwork. Katalenich said that the Soldiers learned how to endure cold weather operations, and how to be safe in doing so.

"Soldiers love to train hard," said Katalenich. Apparently these Soldiers got to do what they love.

Page last updated Thu March 18th, 2010 at 14:04