By Spc. Melissa StewartMarch 25, 2010
More than 500 Soldiers in 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, participated in their annual winter training at Dry Hill, March 9 and 10.
During the training, Soldiers went through five stations that revolved around winter survival and the history of the unit.
First, Soldiers received instruction on the seven-layer Extended Cold Weather Clothing System. With proper knowledge of how to use the cold-weather gear, the likelihood of cold-weather injuries decreases and keeps troops battle ready.
Soldiers heard a brief history of snowshoes and learned how to use and maintain them. Knowledge of the use and maintenance of snowshoes prepares 2-87 Infantry Soldiers for winter and mountain combat situations. Soldiers got to put this new knowledge to the test and use the snowshoes.
Since 2-87 Infantry is historically a winter warfighting unit, Soldiers must know how to be mobile and survive in the snow.
"It helps develop the troops and build their confidence, because they know if they get separated from the unit they know how to survive this kind of weather, and that makes them more diverse and self-sufficient Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Seth Tracy, 1st Platoon, Company D, 2-87 Infantry.
Soldiers also learned how to build snow caves to protect themselves from extreme weather, starting with a simple lean-to to protect a person from the elements for a night, to a team-sized cave made of snow, designed for long-term survival and fighting.
"The survival part was the most interesting to me," said Pvt. Denis White, 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2-87 Infantry. "One of the reasons I joined the infantry was to get training that could help save my life."
Soldiers also learned how to set up a 10-man tent and use a Yukon stove.
A brief history class on the origins of the 10th Mountain Division and 87th Infantry Regiment also was taught during the event. Soldiers learned winter training has been a primary focus of the 87th Infantry and the 10th Mountain Division since World War II when the units were first created to fulfill the Army's need for strong skiers and troops trained to survive extreme winter conditions.
"The history helps a lot," White said. "I can't wait to deploy with the unit and become a Family."
Although this training is an annual event, Soldiers continue to learn and benefit from the winter survival skills, whether they are participating for the first time or teaching the classes.
"This is my second time doing training," Tracy said. "It benefited me a lot being an instructor because I got to learn the material a little bit better."
After every Soldier went through the winter training stations, the slopes were opened for skiing, sledding and snowboarding. For a lift fee of $10, Soldiers and their spouses were provided rental gear and the rest of the day on the slopes.
"When you go out to the field a lot, the Soldiers aren't going to be interested, but if you throw some fun into it, it helps the Soldier to retain the knowledge," Tracy said.
Annual training has helped keep 2-87 Infantry a winter warfighting unit since WWII.