It's pretty fucking impressive what the Finns did to stop the Russians from steam-rolling their country.  They put up enough fight to make the Russians negotiate with them rather than just take what they wanted.  Although they were in the Russian sphere of influence post-war, they still kept their independence, and most of their territory.

I think this has been a big reason we don't hear much of their exploits, as you might read about the RAF in the Battle of Britain.  The guys who fought the Russians to a standstill, quietly melted back into the countryside, without a lot of fanfare, to avoid Russian attention.  

To the OP, this is an interesting question; whether the US (or anyone else really) can field troops like this, or not.  Lots of factors, but looking at the guys growing up on skis versus those given some course of instruction later in life, and maybe 2-3 Northern NATO deployments, if you're lucky.  

As relates to equipment.  Just shooting for some kind of mobility over snow, versus competency in cross-county skiing.  A universal binding that works with boots in common use versus a dedicated ski boot.  

Question.  As I have researched the new Serket "Scout" skis for .mil use, I see they are offered in traditional waxed, and non-waxed bottom surfaces.  Can someone esplain to me the difference.  Is this for different snow/terrain or what?  

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

I had a CO who did an exchange program with the Royal Marine Commandos.  He said between all the cold weather training up in Norway, and all the drinking, it damn-near killed him.  

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Diz posted:

 

Question.  As I have researched the new Serket "Scout" skis for .mil use, I see they are offered in traditional waxed, and non-waxed bottom surfaces.  Can someone esplain to me the difference.  Is this for different snow/terrain or what?  

2 different things.  In short:

P-tex base is what you find on most downhill skis.  They are waxed, generally for speed/glide.  To go uphill, you need to attach climbing skins, sometimes just called skins.

Wax-less base generally refers to a more plastic base with some kind of fish-scale built into the base, generally a 18"-24" section directly underfoot.  When the ski is weighted, the fish scales grip the snow and allow you to push off.  When the ski is unweighted, the fish scale will glide, though not as well as a P-tex base.

They both have their merits.  With skins, you can climb stuff you would not believe.  But skins take skill to put on/take off, and they take maintenance.  If you watch any extreme skiing video, if they didn't get there by helicopter, they probably skinned there.  Waxless base skis take no maintenance.  There's no stopping to put on/take off skins.  But it's hard to go up anything more than a 5% grade (estimated with my Mk1 eyeball).

 

In my opinion, someone back on page 2 nailed it: sometimes you need skis, sometimes you need snowshoes.  It would suck to carry both, but they each have their place.  I'll be interested to hear feedback once this gets to the field.

HazardZetForward posted:
Diz posted:

 

Question.  As I have researched the new Serket "Scout" skis for .mil use, I see they are offered in traditional waxed, and non-waxed bottom surfaces.  Can someone esplain to me the difference.  Is this for different snow/terrain or what?  

P-tex base is what you find on most downhill skis.  They are waxed, generally for speed/glide.  To go uphill, you need to attach climbing skins, sometimes just called skins.

... But it's hard to go up anything more than a 5% grade (estimated with my Mk1 eyeball).

Confused by this. The XC skis I have, and have always used, have several little sticks of wax (and a scraper to remove) which you apply along the middle section, where the waxless barbed bits are. 

Same theory as you described; when on the loaded foot, the ski springs down into the snow, and the wax grabs it. Waxes have to be picked based on conditions, mostly temperature. 

You can then climb, as you say, c. 5% grade at a run. You can also, more slowly, do herringbone or (truly slowly) sidestep. Of course, ideally you plan route well to not have to do too much climbing and so can plan out when it's gonna be a few km of consistent uphill to strap the skins on. 

Yes, you can have a base wax also. But that's not what, in my experience, anyone means by waxed vs waxless. But not a professional at this, and it never snows here anymore, so I don't ski much anymore. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Diz posted:

 

As relates to equipment.  Just shooting for some kind of mobility over snow, versus competency in cross-county skiing.  A universal binding that works with boots in common use versus a dedicated ski boot.  

Question.  As I have researched the new Serket "Scout" skis for .mil use, I see they are offered in traditional waxed, and non-waxed bottom surfaces.  Can someone esplain to me the difference.  Is this for different snow/terrain or what?  

Here is a great primer on cross country ski’s: http://crosscountryskitechnique[dot]com/all-about-classic-skis/

A universal binding that works with mountain boots? Hiking Boots?  Insulated Winter Boots?  That’s the rub, if there were a universal snow - winter boot it would be easier to design a binding thats universal and not cost prohibitive.

~Will

 




 

 

   Anybody can blow something up, but to disarm anothers bomb, this is when talent, skill, bravery & LUCK will all determine "Success or Failure".  

 

Location: UTAH              Joined: 2003

I am having trouble with my 'puter getting out to different websites (new one on order).  From what I could access, I read about cross-country skiing techniques, wax versus waxless, etc. as it relates to civvy skiing on groomed trails.

What is the thinking, concerning military snow mobility, and how this differs from "sport" technique.  Realizing of course that access to, and practice of any skiing technique would make you better overall at moving over snow-covered terrain, what techniques would you emphasize for military ops?

For company or battalion sized operations, I'm guessing that you are more concerned with classic cross-country skiing techniques; you are basically preforming a "road march" on skis.  So you may be trucked or tracked to a jump off point, and do a movement on foot/snow show/ski to an operational area, and then conduct operations.  This resembles the civvy practice of staying in the groove of groomed trail, and would presumably use similar equipment and techniques.  

For special warfare ops, I assume you are not only doing this, but also interested in mobility across commonly inaccessible terrain (as opposed to groomed trails).  So now not only skis, but snowshoes, and even hybrid skis which combine attributes of both.  This does not resemble the civvy stuff you see online, in fact I would guess this kind of stuff is hard to find info on.  I've tried looking at "free skiing" literature, which is close, but no cigar.  Also would guess that some hard core hunters would try and leverage unconventional snow mobility techniques to access final firing points for mountain big game.  Not that they're talking much either.  I've seen some interesting research trips by these guys going into Mongolia or wherever and seeing what the locals use to get around in deep snow (earlier in this thread I believe).

The beauty of it is attacking from a direction where the consensus is "nobody can get through there", thereby achieving the surprise so necessary for small special ops teams.  So again, another assumption (man I'm full of them this morning) is that some combination of unconventional snow mobility, and technical climbing ability would be required in high alpine or artic (special) warfare.

But finding any info on this stuff is difficult.  "What do you need to know that for" kind of thing.   

 

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Not at all sure what the name is (free skiing is to my mind Alpine, plus tricks) but most of my XC civvy skiing and has been trail breaking, not on machine- or guide-groomed trails, for much the reason you just described for unconventional operations (special forces or just guerilla / asymmetric stuff, like Winter War). 

And it's not that I'm awesome for doing this; it's a whole genre, and even for civvy back country camping, trekking, hunting, etc. is a thing much a you described. You use skis not as a cold Nordictrack but as a way to have mobility in deep snow. So, it really should be discussed in detail, openly, somewhere. 

I have no books to suggest, much less websites, as I learned it all firsthand from people well before the Internet era. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Oh wow that brings back the memories.  I trained with 2/130 Il ArNG up there, circa 1980-81. Good times.  Fucking cold, but good times.  

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

As to "free skiing" I'm referring to a magazine I saw recently where they specialize in back country, off-the-beaten path type skiing, but it was mostly downhill, thrill-type stuff.  I guess they use helos for going up-hill.  The skis are very short, for stunt type skiing, fast turns and whatever.     

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Man, helicopters sure are a better solution to going uphill than herringboning your ass off all day. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Diz posted:

What is the thinking, concerning military snow mobility, and how this differs from "sport" technique.  Realizing of course that access to, and practice of any skiing technique would make you better overall at moving over snow-covered terrain, what techniques would you emphasize for military ops?

For company or battalion sized operations, I'm guessing that you are more concerned with classic cross-country skiing techniques; you are basically preforming a "road march" on skis.  So you may be trucked or tracked to a jump off point, and do a movement on foot/snow show/ski to an operational area, and then conduct operations.  This resembles the civvy practice of staying in the groove of groomed trail, and would presumably use similar equipment and techniques.  

 

 

In our small Argentinean Marine Corps, the specialized battalions (riverine, mountain, etc) serve as training centers for the rest. Companies normally hace a scheduled "rotation" to a different environment to cross train. Over time, units develop competency in basic specific stuff (like jungle/mountain/water survival) and can adapt to specific SOPs, drills, etc.

I was company XO at our mountain/cold weather batallion, and had to run a 1 month winter training for the fleet force. Looking at the facebook pictures from Fort McCoy , it looked quite similar. after 3 weeks of survival and movement training, we gave further training on combat drills over snow with snowshoes and skis, and then a final 5 day field exercise.

The "northern" batallions performend pretty much on par with mine. My guys had more experience "reading" the terrain for selecting the easiest path, and estimating march speeds and stuff like that. They also have a lot of experience on screwing up, getting cold, surviving snowstorms, getting people out of crevasses, settin up mortar plates on ice, and stuff that comes from years on the area.
But the battalions with just one month of training could march on old telemark skis for 50/60 km, set up OPs, patrol and assault a target against a small OPFOR. Meeting engagements between our ski patrols and theirs were quite fun, but a peel is a peel.

I´m sure the Marines in Norway are having a similar experience.

Marching is the easy part. Discipline and Survival skills are the hard to get. Not survival in the sense of making fire with sticks, but stuff like:
- setting up your pack, what to carry and what not
- carrying your own civvy heater and field expedient means of making fire and shelter
- the stuff you have to buy yourself
- dressing and layering for march in the cold
- pulling OP/LP duty on really cold nights
- being 2ndLt, 1stLT or Sgt and getting off your warm sleeping bag to check your platoon at 3AM with -30°C
- being Bn CO and being able to follow your companies marching up the mountain (mine coulnd´t)

- being CO, S3 or Company CO and arranging mountain, climbing, ski and other training from local civilian alpine clubs
- Moving the batallion through the high ground without vehicles, cooks, field kitchens, HQ tents, computers, away from MSRs

My S3 used to say "Mountains don´t lie". The cold and the mountains have a way of testing discipline.

We had a USMC observer but I can´t remember his name. This was 2010-2011. Damn I´m getting old.


Simmetric (US vs Germany at bastogne) vs asymetric (Finland vs USSR),
just cold (bastogne) vs cold AND mountain, wet cold vs dry cold... important factors for analysis.

Have you seen the movie "Talvisota" ?

Good movie. Good post. 

Also, have totally embraced the concept but love how "Cold AND a mountain" sounds. Too true.  Also important, cold and wet. Have learned over time that it is, generally, better to be out in just below than just above freezing wx, just to avoid getting wet. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

shoobe01 posted:

Good movie. Good post. 

Also, have totally embraced the concept but love how "Cold AND a mountain" sounds. Too true.  Also important, cold and wet. Have learned over time that it is, generally, better to be out in just below than just above freezing wx, just to avoid getting wet. 

Staying dry is terrain dependant.
In our Tierra del Fuego mountains, you have to cross streams all the time. Sometimes they are frozen sometimes they are not.
We worked with a "wet" uniform, and slept on a dry uniform. In the moring you have to switch from warm clothes and sleeping bag to wet or frozen clothes

Aslo, one main point of being mindset adapted to the environment, is to warm yourself with the sleeping bag and making soup or coffee with a  portable gas heater, and not making a fire, no matter how hidden.

 

http://s448.photobucket.com/us...html?sort=3&o=40

 

Hey thanks for weighing in.  You bring up very good points, in several areas.  I have tried to stay with just equipment (skis) but the point being there is a total package here that must be taken into account.  On top of just learning to use skis, you have to learn how to live out in extreme cold.  Then there is the terrain.  Then there is good leadership and teamwork.  And so on.  

Yeah I would imagine the USMC experiences in Norway are covering much the same areas as you mention.  I have only trained briefly in these things but I understand fully what you are talking about.  Cold weather is not pleasant and brings out the worst in some people.  You have to dig deep to make those "health and welfare" checks at zero-dark thirty.  And knowing how to make a proper brew up is essential.  And the wet gear/dry gear routine, much like the jungle, although perhaps more is at stake.   

Have not seen that flick; will have to check out.

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

We had developed a listing, and reached out to several of the different domestic and International school houses we could use as references and training partners. We have had reps from NWTC, AMWS Jericho,  Ft McCoy, MWTC Bridgeport, Special Forces Advanced Mountain Operations School and the Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare at various ones of or conferences. Others we listed are the usual NATO and Nordic countries, and others like Georgia, Turkey and Uganda. Even had references on the IDF skiing in the Golan Hights.

We maintained the position through most of the intial planning that the knowledge already exists we just needed to bring it together. And also that there are many opportunities to train if you look for them.  But to provide a true capability you need to build it into your training  cycles.

And reference an earlier question about skiing the only doctrinal reference we could find was from the USMC  which called for approximately 1/3 of the force to be on ski’s. Scouts, and screen lines for the main body. This was also approximately how many skis we used to have in the INF Bn’s, one platoons worth with  snow shoes for everyone. The BOIP I developed basicly followed that guide.

 

 

 

How about the ROK MC Mountain Warfare School up in Pohang?  Are they still around?  Went through their course in '79.  You would think that would be an area on the radar, as much as Norway.  

I think it's pretty cool that cadres are reaching out to each other to cross-pollinate.  Makes a lot of sense, which is oftentimes missing in military affairs.  

That's pretty funny, "...on the other side of the mountains...".  Well, you sound like you are perfectly capable of going over to whichever side you want.  Although I'm not sure of that international border thing.   Do you guys get on these days?  

Yes indeed, it does sound like you are very well informed of international T,T,P's, so it would not surprise me to find out you cross-trained with some different folks.  Not that you couldn't figure it out, OJT, but you seem very familiar with the military terminology, not to mention fluent in English.  

BTW that pic of the stream crossing in the dead of winter; made me cold just looking at it.   

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Desert01 posted:

We had developed a listing, and reached out to several of the different domestic and International school houses we could use as references and training partners. We have had reps from NWTC, AMWS Jericho,  Ft McCoy, MWTC Bridgeport, Special Forces Advanced Mountain Operations School and the Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare at various ones of or conferences. Others we listed are the usual NATO and Nordic countries, and others like Georgia, Turkey and Uganda. Even had references on the IDF skiing in the Golan Hights.

We maintained the position through most of the intial planning that the knowledge already exists we just needed to bring it together. And also that there are many opportunities to train if you look for them.  But to provide a true capability you need to build it into your training  cycles.

And reference an earlier question about skiing the only doctrinal reference we could find was from the USMC  which called for approximately 1/3 of the force to be on ski’s. Scouts, and screen lines for the main body. This was also approximately how many skis we used to have in the INF Bn’s, one platoons worth with  snow shoes for everyone. The BOIP I developed basicly followed that guide.

Regarding the Training Center, I know the USMC keeps a liaison officer in Arg Marine Corps Command.
Ushuaia is an excellent place to train in mountain, with very easy access to ski resort with ongoing collaboration with units, and good glaciers, frozen waterfalls for ice climbing, big training grounds and stuff like that. It´s the southernmost unit in the world. After that, you have Antarctica.

But the real repository of knowledge is the army Mountain Warfare School, where we send our on instructors and SOF guys. Besides the usual summer and winter ski and climbing courses, they do the heavy stuff: getting the big guns and the logistics up, plus the planning techniques. I find interesting that the army never quit on mules and horses for mountain, and they keep a horse cavalry unit. Mule breeding and genetics is a perishable skill.

I´m sure the US Army also keeps representatives or liaison with the Argentinean Army, I´ve red carpeted visits several times.


Regarding providing true capabilites and building a training cycle, I totally agree.
I noticed on our own unit that, even though some people have been in the mountain for years, the true bottleneck of readiness was officers. NCOs tend to say longer in the unit, but officers come and go. CO and S3 in particular, run the training schedule and the field op designs.
So you´d have years where we´d be skiing everywhere and freezing our asses on the glacier, and then the next year we were just marching and doing fire and maneuver on the valleys just like the regular units but in the cold.

Sustainment of mountain capabilities require an integral approach.

Diz posted:

That's pretty funny, "...on the other side of the mountains...".  Well, you sound like you are perfectly capable of going over to whichever side you want.  Although I'm not sure of that international border thing.   Do you guys get on these days? 

Hahaha! Well, we get along MUCH BETTER with the Chilean Marines than with the Argentinean Army

We don´t cross land borders, but navy and marine junior officers would go sailing to Puerto Williams every so often for barbecues and stuff.

Good point, which is totally missed by a lot of folks.  A lot depends on the officers and senior staff in the units at any particular time.  With good leadership, you have good training cycles, and do what you're supposed to be doing.  With bad leadership, you get shit training, and well, do all sorts of shit that doesn't support your main mission.  I have personally experience this myself.  Even within the same units, as the senior staff rotated in and out.  

A lot depends on you senior NCO's who can take up a lot of the slack with their own "hip pocket" training.  But if you are weak in both areas, then you have problems.

A lot depends on the military budget, which may or may not be there.  We worked on shoestring budgets during the Carter years, OK during Reagan, so-so with Bush the First, shit with Klinton, pretty good with Bush the Second, lousy with Obama, and perhaps great again with Trump.  So peaks n valleys, so to speak.

And current events.  The G-WOT kicked off major spending and training  cycles, which are/have been ramping down these days, but then again, maybe not so much.

And then you have the reaction, post-war that you get within the military.  After Vietnam, we couldn't focus on NATO, both northern and southern, fast enough.  After the G-WOT, we seem to be looking at jungle and mountain warfare again.  

So yeah, lots of stuff impacts things like military ski programs.  We are lucky to have dedicated cadres that keep the home fires burning in these areas, sometimes in spite of all this going on.      

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Times have changed.  In the late 70's we didn't have any facilities like this.  We were flown into Pohang and established a base camp, right on the airfield, which became home for the next 6 weeks.  We lived out of a sea bag and a rucksack, in GP Medium tents.  We went through the ROK Mountain Warfare School with the ROK Force Recon Marines.  Serious bad-asses.  It was a good exchange program.  We learned a new level of physical fitness and toughness.  They learned a lot of technical skill sets from us.  We raised hell together in a place called "The Marine House".  They had these three hot tubs upstairs for rest and relaxation I suppose.  Of course we had a belly-flop contest, jumping from tub to tub.  They said it felt like the fucking ceiling was going to come down.  I mean hundreds of gallons of water, drunk-ass Marines from two countries, and a wooden floor.  What could possibly go wrong.    

I can't believe these candy-asses have a new barracks up there now.  What's the world coming to.       

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

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