Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Community
Fort Bragg Soldiers train for cold-weather conditions
Story by A1C Ariel Owings on 01/28/2019
White clouds curled from their mouths as they steadied their breath, waiting for the cue to fire. A voice came over the radio of the Humvee saying “ready one.” Immediately, hot bullet casings fell from the gunner station and bounced around inside the HUMVEE.
Even with five layers of military-grade cold-weather gear on, the Soldiers were not used to training in the freezing winds of Joint Base MDL’s ranges. Over 500 Soldiers assigned to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina traveled here to qualify for gunnery cold-weather qualification training Jan. 5-22.
“This gives us the opportunity to test our own systems on how we can combat the cold weather,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Auton, 1st Platoon section leader. “It’s simple things like-can we keep our water running? Will it freeze in the water buffalo? Will the trucks start? There are multiple echelons that [the cold] effects, so we are testing it all.”
It may be only once a year, but the chill that blankets Northeastern military installations never ceases to shock the newcomers in the division. Part of the training has a focused view inside the HUMVEEs to qualify the teams in learning to work together driving, loading, reporting, shooting and more. Mastering communication between one another builds a foundation for a good platoon.
The Soldiers were required to sleep outside on the ranges with just their sleeping bag for at least five nights. On the nights spent outside, they woke up before the light of dawn to the cries of their platoon leaders calling for morning chow. Each Soldier seemed to drag themselves to the chow truck, questioning if the food was worth leaving their warm sleeping bags.
Auton laughed at the question of what it was like to sleep outside”cold.”
The weather sometimes dropped into single digits, simulating one of the many possibilities of a deployed environment. The 325th AIR is prepared to deploy anywhere in the world, within 18 hours of notification.
They are among the first to be called when America summons her armed forces.
“Watching from where they were a couple weeks ago to where we are today has been an amazing improvement and much needed. It’s been a big morale booster [for everyone],” said Sgt. 1st Class Jonah Hudson, 2nd Platoon sergeant.
Auton said besides the mission at hand, there is never a guarantee of what will or will not happen. This regiment has an obligation to be prepared in every way possible, and that is what they came to do.
“We have had so many opportunities to get very much needed training,” said Hudson. “We never really know what mission we will be called up to do so this kind of weather is really great for us.”