SO I'm in conversation with a friend about re-establishing a ski program for his unit. He was focused on the deficiencies with the old equipment, and a belief that that equipment is no longer available. My focus was more on how the operational/training part of our old program sucked so much, that the equipment barely even mattered. As in the ski program was just another tool used once or twice a winter for PT. It had no operational role in our unit and that I am unaware of any tactical training events having ever occurred in the 20 plus years I've been around the unit, and even the PT benefit was debatable.
So to set the stage he has a pretty good material solution for Snow shoes currently on hand from courtesy of MSR and the USMC Assault Snow Shoes. For the ski's they used to have the white rockets: Ramer bindings aka NATO and ASNES ski's. Supposedly neither of these items are still in inventory for new procurement, I'm still researching that, but I believe both companies have gone out of business. The old Chippewa mountain boots also look to be out of inventory, but Chippewa is still open and makes a similar boot. We didn't really love our Chip's, but they were decent the few times I skied I them. just don't go for a long road march in them.
Looking around the internet I have found that the USMC has been looking for a new ski solution for several years and have issued several sources sought notices which serve as a good Requirements starting point. I have also seen the Canadian Forces put together a new ski solution and the Finn's have done some recent work,
I have found the following purchases on FBO and am also looking at them to inform the out line I'm working on.
Scarpa MAESTRALE PRO (Tactical) Alpine Touring (AT) Ski Boot
Black Diamond Aspect Skis BD115048-186cm
Fritschi Diamer Eagle Bindings
Must have an adapter that will allow interface of an Inverno plastic mountaineering boot into a Alpine Touring ski Binding.
Black Diamond Boundary Ski Poles
Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Skins
USMC Mountain Warfare School
Garmont Telemark Excursion Ski Boot
TARGA Ascent telemark binding with WorldCup cartridge.
LEKI Haute Route SpeedLock
SOCOM also appears to have purchased the Bates Tora Bora Alpine Combat boots, which I've also found in images of troops from the Vermont NG 86th Infantry.
From the FInn's they seem to have developed an interesting new binding which makes for a universal binding. I believe they are the Finngrip EASY bindings, "The binding consists of flexible plastic cup and a steel wire base plate which hooks up from the heel. The binding is adjustable to European shoe sizes 36 to 48." Coupled with a ski like the Fiiber Cruiser 170 cm forest ski's or the Fiiber Patrol 210 cm Forest Skis (described as copies of the Finnish military skis) it looks like a good match for some of the readings I have had on ski requirements.
The Canadians put together a ski system based on Karfu ski's, Hummocks "boot wraps" and Salomon bindings. the Hummocks look like a Snow board binding clipped into a cross country ski binding. They allow the use of any boot and I see them referenced pretty often as being used for Ice Cap ski expeditions.
So lots of information there, but few answers on the material front. If this were to develop into a capability I'd expect it to be centered more on back country mobility than on Alpine down hill type sking. As such a more cross country set up like the Canadians might be more appropriate than what I perceive as the Telemark Ski's of 10th Group and the USMC Mountain Warfare Center. Would love to here more about the experts on here about material solutions.
On the employment level I'm rather of the opinion if they are to pursue it should be part of a specialization vs ski's for all. Mostly because of my perception that a ski program would need greater maintenance of skills. This might look something like X Company or Y BN are ski battalions, or scout plattons and Dismounted Recon Troops on skis, or ect. Everyone else is on snow shoes. While perhaps not optimal, it might be the best match for time and resources available. Make them get good at one thing and one thing only vs not good at either.
When I can bring the other files back together I will add them in. I look forward to the discussion.
I also looked at some of the available doctrinal references. FM 3-97.6 Mountain Operations doesn't mention ski'ing at all and FM 31-70 Northern Operations was written in 1971. ATTP 3-97.11/MCRP 3-35.1D (FM 31-70 and FM 31-71) Cold Region Operations offer this:
4-4. Skis enable Soldiers and Marines to move quickly into remote areas that vehicles cannot access since they allow for much quicker infiltration and exfiltration than snowshoes. Skis work particularly well for missions such as raids and reconnaissance and surveillance. However, most individuals will not require skis. Specialized units such as Rangers, Special Forces, and Scouts will have utility for skis. The disadvantage to skis is that they take a long time to train on and require the purchase of special equipment. The Northern Warfare Training Center provides a standard estimate that it will take 40 to 50 hours for most Soldiers to attain proficiency using skis with the standard combat load. Skiing expertise is only maintained in a few Army schools. If commanders deem this as a crucial skill, they should contact the Northern Warfare Training Center, the Army's Mountain Warfare School, 10th Special Forces, or Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center to receive training for this task.
Kits and Sleds
4-10. The Army and Marine Corps have recently started to field special kits to aid in movement. These kits aid in movement and maneuver in both cold and mountainous regions. Units that need these kits should contact the Army Mountain Warfare School, the Northern Warfare Training Center, or the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center for information on the latest version of these kits. These kits continually evolve so this manual will not discuss individual ones.
4-11. Many units may find that using smaller sleds are desirable. For example, the Marines employ a four man sled design. There are many designs available for commercial off-the-shelf purchase. These sleds are well suited for squad movements and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
As far as I know these kits do not include any ski materials, but several kits do include the "Assault Snow Shoes" from MSR. The ski problem seems to be related to Berry Compliancy issues.