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Minnesota National Guard
Soldiers battle bitter cold during Canadian winter combat exercise

CHISASIBI, Quebec - The mission was simple:  survive

Soldiers of the Moorhead-based 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry are accustomed to battling the elements during the course of their normal combat training exercises  So, the mission may have sounded rather innocuous: move in, set up defenses, stand your guard, then pack up and move out

However, the first ever Guerrier Nordique (French for Nordic warrior) mission ended up being a little more complicated than that 

The Soldiers were tasked with surviving 24 hours in the blistering cold of northern Quebec  Equipped with very few resources, the platoon-sized element of Minnesota Soldiers was pitted against the extreme climate afforded by Canada's unforgiving winters

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"The weather was much colder than our guys are used to," said 1st Lt Joseph M Genin, the executive officer for B Company, 2-136 IN (CAB)  "It was probably regularly twenty degrees below the temperatures we are accustomed to in the Moorhead area"

At one point during the night, Soldiers attempted to sleep through a miserable 55 degrees below zero with wind chill  While the cold made for a somewhat restless night for the platoon, they managed to stay positive and focused

"Our team did a great job combating the extreme climate in Chisasibi," said Genin  "We sustained no cold weather injuries"

After linking up with members of the Canadian Armed Forces' 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Infantry Regiment in Quebec City, the 2-136 IN (CAB) Soldiers moved to a remote location outside of the town Chisasibi, near the Hudson Bay  Here, the training consisted of winter survival and combat operations, and Soldiers were supplied with just 25 feet of parachute cord and a small fold-up shovel

"The Canadian instructors were incredibly friendly and informative," said Genin  "They shared their knowledge and expertise in building shelters and finding and capturing water and nutrition sources"  In addition, Genin explained that his crew was trained on constructing winter fighting positions and conducting winter combat operations

The training also gave the Soldiers a chance to utilize and test the effectiveness of their cold-weather uniforms  Today's US Army Soldiers are issued the third generation of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS), which consists of a parka, trousers and other items of individual clothing  The current generation of ECWCS is designed to maintain adequate environmental protection in temperatures reaching 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit

"Wearing and applying the new ECWCS proved to be an extremely beneficial training experience for the Soldiers," said Genin  He explained that the platoon even received a briefing on the "science" behind the cold-weather clothing system from a mountain warfare course instructor, so that they could more successfully utilize the gear

"Overall the mission was a great success," said Genin  "The cultural awareness and training received was extraordinary, and the Soldiers gained real, applicable skills  The training highlighted differences in morale, equipment, and physiological changes to the body due to the effects of cold weather

"I highly recommend continuing this training mission for years to come"

Story by Sgt Eric Jungels
34th Infantry Division Public Affairs
5 March, 2011

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