Why helicopters don’t crash when they lose an engine

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More than two dozen Army Rangers with battalions from the 75th Ranger Regiment enhanced their skills in cold-weather operations during training Feb. 21-March 6, 2019 at Fort McCoy.

The Soldiers were part of the 14-day Cold Weather Operations Course, Class 19-05, hosted by the Fort McCoy Planning, Training, Mobilization and Security Branch and taught by five instructors with the Veterans Range Solutions entrepreneur.


A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Scott Farley)

The Rangers received classroom training on a variety of topics, such as cold weather injury prevention and cold weather military operations history. During the field training, they learned downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, using ahkio sleds, and setting up cold weather shelters like the Arctic Cold Weather Tent for 10 people or improvised shelter.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

“Building a shelter among other soldiers and being able to stay warm all night was one of the best things I learned in this course,” said Sgt. Paul Drake with the 3rd Battalion, 75th at Fort Benning, Ga. “This training also helped me understand extreme cold and how to conserve energy and operate efficiently while wearing the Cold Weather Extended Clothing System (ECWCS) uniform properly.”

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

The Army’s ECWCS includes more than a dozen items that are distributed to soldiers, said Thomas Lovgren, property book manager at the Fort McCoy Central Rescue Facility. System includes light body suit and underwear, medium weight shirt and underwear, fleece jacket, windbreaker jacket, softshell jacket and pants, cold weather jacket and pants / extreme wet, and a parka and pants for extreme cold weather.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

“It’s a layered system that provides protection in a variety of climatic elements and temperatures,” said Lovgren, whose facility has provided ECWCS items to soldiers since the course began. “Each part of the ECWCS fits and works either on its own or together as a system, allowing seamless integration with the load carrying equipment and body armor.”

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

In addition to the many Rangers praising the course’s ECWCS training, many also praised the field training.

“Living in the cold for seven days and sleeping in shelters makes me more competent to operate in less than optimal conditions,” said Sgt. Austin Strimenos with the 2nd Battalion, 75th at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

“Plus the cross-country skiing and trail we used were awesome,” Strimeros said.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Students in Class 19-05 of the Fort McCoy Cold Weather Operation Course (CWOC) practice skiing.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

During the training, the students experienced heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures. CPS. Jose Francisco Garcia, also a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th, said the extreme winter conditions, along with the rugged terrain at Fort McCoy, helped everyone develop winter operations skills.

“The best part about this course is the uncomfortable setting Fort McCoy confronts the soldiers with during this kind of weather,” Garcia said. “It makes us think critically and allows us to broaden our thinking process when planning for future cold weather operations. It also helps us understand travel planning, what rations we need, and more. “

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

CPS. Stephen Harbeck of the 1st Battalion, 75th at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., Near Fort Stewart, said he enjoyed the training, including the cold water immersion training. Cold water immersion training involves digging a large hole in the ice at the station’s Big Sandy Lake by CWOC staff, then a safe and planned diet is followed to allow each participant to jump into the ice water.

“The experience of a service member who is introduced to water in an extremely cold environment is a critical task for water operations and confidence building,” said CWOC instructor Joe Ernst.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

“The best things about this course are the training on fire lighting, shelter construction and cold water immersion,” said Harbeck. “The CWOC helped me understand the pros and cons of snow and cold. Everything we learned gave me the knowledge to operate in a cold weather environment.

By definition of the military, units like the 75th are a large-scale special operations force and are made up of some of the army’s most elite soldiers. Rangers specialize in joint special operations raids and more, so getting training to operate in a cold weather environment adds to their skills.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) class 19-05 students.

(Photo by Joe Ernst)

“Knowing and feeling the effects of cold on troops and equipment as well as troop movements in the snow are skills that I can share with the soldiers in my unit,” said Cpl. Justin Galbraith, also with the 2nd Battalion, 75th. “It was cold and it snowed a lot while we were here. So… it was perfect.

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Scott Farley)

Other field skills practiced in Ranger training included terrain and weather analysis, risk management, development of winter field combat positions, camouflage and concealment, and more. .

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Scott Farley)

“This course gave me a better understanding of how to perform foot movements, survive in the elements and more,” said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Bowman with the 3rd Battalion, 75th. “It also helped me establish the (basis) for creating new tactics, techniques and procedures for possible future deployments and training situations. “

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Scott Farley)

This course is the fifth of six CWOC courses taught between December 2018 and March 2019.

“Fort McCoy is a good place for this training because of the weather and the snowfall,” said SPC. Clay Cottle with the 2nd Battalion, 75th. “We need to bring more Rangers into this course. “

Why helicopters don't crash when they lose an engine

A Cold Weather Operation (CWOC) student class 19-05.

(Photo by Scott Farley)

Note: Male CWOC students receive a command-approved modified grooming exemption during training to help prevent cold weather injuries due to multiple days of field training.

Located in the heart of the Upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only US Army installation in Wisconsin.

Fort McCoy lives up to its motto, “Total Force Training Center”. The facility has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 service members from all departments each year since 1984.


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