BLACK RAPIDS TRAINING SITE, Alaska - Soldiers and leaders alike must receive specialized training to understand how to operate and train safely in the cold winter months of Alaska as well as the isolated mountains of Afghanistan.

The Northern Warfare Training Center here has two winter courses that teach arctic survival skills. The Cold Weather Orientation course is geared toward key leaders. The Cold Weather Leader's Course trains experts who go back and instruct their units on proper techniques of survival and maneuver.

CWOC is a four day overview of the basic survival skills covered in the two week CWLC. The leaders not only learn survival skills but they get a sense of what "right" looks like when supervising unit cold weather training.

Capt. Vincent Particini, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, said that it was a priority for his commander that all of his personnel attend either CWOC or CWLC.

"You talk to some of the Soldiers and they show you the things that they learned, but you can't really get a sense of what they go through until you go through something like it," Particini said.

Particini said one of the most important things he learned at the course was how to use his equipment and trust in it.

"You have to know what right looks like," Particini said.

"Last time I was in Afghanistan we went through the mountains, and you wouldn't think there is a lot of snow, I know I didn't," Particini said. "We did a lot of patrols where we were in snow and we never had gear like this or any special training. So I think that Soldiers and leaders [should] get this very valuable training prior to [deploying to Afghanistan]."

Particini said he is now able to trust in his Army gear.

Maj. Martha Curtis, 8th Forward Surgical Team, said she learned a lot from the course.

"I just got [to Alaska] and I was not familiar with cold weather at all, Curtis said.

When she received the numerous articles of cold weather gear from the Central Issue Facility she said, "I thought this was just equipment I might not ever use again."

Curtis said she will not only take what she has learned here back to her unit here in Alaska, but on [future] deployments as well.

"The Soldiers and leaders who complete this course have a better understanding of how their equipment works and how to use it," said Maj. Gary Mcdonald, Northern Warfare Center commandant, "with the help of the NWTC and trained men and women who attend its courses, Soldiers will be able to perform their missions and use the elements to their advantage instead of being hindered by them."

For photos related to this story see:

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16