The second class of Soldiers and airmen graduated Friday from the Mountain Winter Warfare Course at the Light Fighters School.
The course is offered to anyone who would like to attend. This class consisted of Soldiers and airmen from Fort Drum, as well as 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers from Fort Polk, La. Although the course is still in its pilot program, students are learning skills they will use in a field and deployed atmosphere.
"We ran a one-week pilot course, and we found out that the one-week course was not long enough to get all the information to the students," said Sgt. 1st Class Jared Holt, senior cadre member for the Mountain Winter Warfare Course. "I'm very happy with this two-week course we are now offering; the students are getting all the information we are giving to them."
While the cadre is still looking for ways to improve the course, students are very impressed with everything they learn within two weeks.
It teaches them the basics in knots, anchor construction, hasty rappelling, fixed-ropes techniques, patient packaging, environmental injuries, hauling systems, high lines, mountain weather considerations, water procurement, cold weather clothing, fighting positions, shooting platforms and environmental effects on weapons. The course culminates with a field training event.
"The most challenging part of the course is the knot test," said 2nd Lt. Eric Killian, a member of 4th Brigade Combat Team. "It's a test that includes about 15 different types of knots you must complete in a set amount of time. It is very easy to get a 'no-go' if you don't concentrate on what you are doing."
"It's a good course; it has taught me a lot about knots and mountaineering that I hadn't learned before," he added. "My favorite part was setting up a high line, and we used it to cross a creek. The high line is like a zip line, and it was very fun to use."
Students used skills they learned in the classroom during a situational field problem. The task was to get a wounded Soldier from the starting point of the lane to the medic station set up at the end of the event. The lane made the students use what they learned inside the classroom in a real-world environment.
During the course, students were given obstacles to overcome. One of these obstacles was a steep hill, requiring Soldiers to construct a device made of rope and items they carried in their rucksacks to overcome the incline. The objective was to get the wounded Soldier to the top of the hill without danger to themselves or the wounded member of their team.
The class members decided on which route up the hill they would take and then executed skills they had learned to get the casualty up the hillside to safety.
"This class was definitely worth the trip we took traveling from Fort Polk," Killian said. "I hope to be able to send some of my Soldiers to this course so that they can better understand the elements I will teach them upon my return to 4th Brigade."
The following service members listed graduated the Mountain Winter Warrior Course: 1st Lt. Colin Graves, 2nd Lt. Eric Killian, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Reinhardt, Staff Sgt. Kyle Boles, Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Epps, Staff Sgt. Kevin Moritz, Staff Sgt. Christopher O'neil, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Queen, Staff Sgt. Jacob Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Shane Hill.
Also, Sgt. Jeffrey Ferraro, Sgt. Jeffrey Gouge, Sgt. Anthony Graves, Sgt. Jeffrey Hall, Sgt. Joshua Hays, Sgt. Nicholas Mitchell, Sgt. Joshua Swartz, Spc. Matthew Booker, Spc. Timothy Grzeskiewicz, Pfc. Albert Razo, Airman Alexander Dellis and Airman Joseph Marion.
Article by Sgt. Steven Peterson, Army.mil