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Old 06-24-2004, 02:33   #1
troy2k
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Perishable skills...

Well, I got to 1/10 in January, and learned the "A" in A Co. really stands for Africa. No sweat for me, as I came from 5th Grp and have done desert things before.
Here's my question: my weapons guy feels that with a lack of winter training emphasis, 1/10 (maybe 10th as a whole?) could be losing it's Winter Warfare abilities. Anyone out there feel he's onto something that should be addressed, or is he overreacting?
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Old 06-24-2004, 15:54   #2
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Although some guys miss CWT due to deployments now and then, 2d & 3d Bn (along with Group HQ) gets regular training for cold weather and high altitude AOs here in CO. Now, learning how to suck it up in the cold isn't necessarily important, but some skills like skiing with equipment certainly are perishable. Other skills, such as building a hide site in the snow or cold weather survival are good to practice to become better, but I think they're more knowledge-based, in that once you know how, you won't really lose the ability.

The real question is how much Russian or Serbo-Croat are you speaking on the dark continent?
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Old 06-24-2004, 18:14   #3
troy2k
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Said it wrong...

I should have said "lost base of knowledge." Jeff feels that the actual knowledge is being lost as folks PCS, retire, etc...

Now, about that Russian...
Ich bin sprechensie kein Ruskaya.

THAT is a perishable skill, it is gone brother, and it was my language too.
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Old 06-24-2004, 19:42   #4
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Re: Perishable skills...

Quote:
Originally posted by troy2k
Well, I got to 1/10 in January, and learned the "A" in A Co. really stands for Africa.
I got to Group for the second time in August 79 and in Jan 81 I got an all expense trip to Africa that was supposed to be for 6 weeks that lasted 11 months. Got back just in time to go to CWT in Vermont for a month. Biggest adaptation was trying to reacclimatize myself. Never had a problem with maintaining the CWT skills, but I would be concerned about language and other area orientation skills that have little to do with deployments outside of your normal AO. Language can be maintained with a little effort and depending on what your missions are I would be more concerned about the medics and commo folk getting a chance to maintain their skills if it is not part of the mission profile for your fun trip in the Sahel.

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Old 06-24-2004, 20:36   #5
mffjm8509
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Heres my take on CWT......

We havent done hard challenging WET exercises in years. We've already lost the Craig Truskeys, Gavin Sullivans, and Rich Fergesons.......I doubt there are very many guys left in 10th group that have planned an extensive winter warfare exercise, or that has challenged themselves by surviving for 20+ days in that environment. Today we have far too many other skills that must be maintained. I think we continue to try to do this purely for historical reasons.

On anohter note, It takes up an enourmous portion of our annual training budget and what do we really get out of it? 3 weeks of instructor ski train up, 2-3 weeks of combined downhill training, a week or so of decentralized training, and maybee an FTX if all works out well.

2/10 spent $180,000 to take one SF company, HHC, and one team from another company skiing at Keystone this past year. There was NO FTX because of ongoing mission requirements. After this budget was allocated that left $6000 per company to use for training funds. $6000? I took a trip to Cp Gurnsey, WY for heavy wpns training that cost the company $4500 and the MOST team used the rest for its snowmobile training. I cant help but think that money could be better spent on combat related skills than on downhill skiing.

When I look at the other groups sending guys to each class the Rod Hall or Griffon group runs, as well as the shooting schools teams go throug together with Mid-south and Thunder Ranch, it really makes it hard for me to understand how we can spend that amount of money to go skiing and leave our guys cut short when they get into a gunfight downrange....

just my .02

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Old 06-25-2004, 07:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by mffjm8509
Heres my take on CWT......

We've already lost the Craig Truskeys, Gavin Sullivans, and Rich Fergesons.......
mp
I agree with your assessment and if the 10th is spending that much money on skiing at the expense of critical training skills then there is a problem. Two weeks of ski training for those that cannot ski develops a unguided missile tamped by a rucksack that is bound to give your medics good training treating a variety of injuries and that's about all. And as you have pointed out skiing is just a part of WET. While I cannot speak to the situation that you find yourself in currently, I can speak to those situations when I had a WET requirement and the resources we spent did not conflict with those that we needed for other skills. I was fortunate in one unit because money was never a problem and we had Gavin (who by the way is my cousin) and others that had the skill and the talent to train others to attain acceptable levels appropriate to meet mission requiements and no other skills suffered because of it.

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Old 06-25-2004, 08:05   #7
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Skills may diminish but are never lost. Many of the things you do become automatic once mastered. I haven't copied code for 25 years but just copied 2 5 WPM on the ARRL site. In a few days I could get back to my old self.

Other skills really require minimum training. I heard this first in reference to climbing but have heard it many times about other shills. "***** is 10% skill and 90% confidence."

Another example would be language skills. A 30 day refresher will get linguists back to their previous level.

The real challenge is to keep abreast of advances in tactics and technology.
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Old 06-25-2004, 12:56   #8
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Re: Said it wrong...

Quote:
Originally posted by troy2k
I should have said "lost base of knowledge." Jeff feels that the actual knowledge is being lost as folks PCS, retire, etc...

Jeff who?

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Old 06-26-2004, 22:54   #9
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When I got to 10th Grp in 99 it was right after the 5 long years of doing Bosnia rotations, and everyone was saying how much skill was lost Grp wide after not doing WET for 5 years.
I dunno if it's perishable, or not but there was a lot of playing catch up the next couple years.
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Old 06-27-2004, 09:27   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Max_Tab
When I got to 10th Grp in 99 it was right after the 5 long years of doing Bosnia rotations, and everyone was saying how much skill was lost Grp wide after not doing WET for 5 years.
I dunno if it's perishable, or not but there was a lot of playing catch up the next couple years.
You know 3rd BN really got hosed during that time. I think they picked up every winter rotation to BH. In 1998 we closed downtthe houses in MND-SW and MND-SE and dropped the requirement to a company rotation, but also picked up Kosovo the next year.

I dont think 2nd BN failed to do a WET with at least 2 companies the entire time I was here on my first tour. I dont think that has been kept up while I was at SWC. I didnt ski for the entire 3 years at SWC and still manged to be in ski group 2 when I returned. I had no experience skiing when I initially came to 10th group and learned the old 1/10 POI from Joe Butler. I guess that just shows there are a lot of newer guys that havent been exposed to it.

I doubt the guys here now could complete some of the treks we did 8-10 years ago, simply because they've been busy doing other things and havent had the time in the mountains. A couple years of mileage would fix that, but I dont think inthe present situation that will ever happen.

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Old 07-05-2004, 17:43   #11
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What kind of ski's are the issuing now. When I was there we had the Tua Excaliber's with sivereta bindings. (sorry if I spelled those wrong) As I was leaving I heard rumors that they were getting new ski's.
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Old 07-05-2004, 18:02   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Max_Tab
What kind of ski's are the issuing now. When I was there we had the Tua Excaliber's with sivereta bindings. (sorry if I spelled those wrong) As I was leaving I heard rumors that they were getting new ski's.
I've got the Tuas, but many of the guys have gotten new K2s.

Silveretta 404 bindings are still standard.

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Old 07-05-2004, 19:17   #13
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Sorry for cutting in. I'm a 1st Grouper, not a 10th Grouper. Winter warfare and cold to us means North Korea, China, Manchuria, Mongolia, and Siberia.

Is cold weather training perishable? Yes. Is it mission-critical? You can't focus on everything all the time, so you have to assume risk. Risk=probability x consequence. Yup, it's cold and the air is mighty thin in the Hindu Kush. But there's Hajjis all over the planet that don't ski.

Just ramblings from an old fokker.
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Old 07-05-2004, 20:05   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Max_Tab
When I was there we had the Tua Excaliber's with sivereta bindings.
My first tour with the 10th was with wooden White Stars (210cm for all), touring bindings, and Chippewa Boots. We got to pine tar the new skis so that they would hold wax and I have thrown javelins that were shorter than the ski poles we had. Of course we also had helmets in which you could boil water, entrenching tools that actually did what they were designed to do, mountain rucks that held what we needed without the benefit of the other 100 pounds of extraneous light weight shit that suddenly appeared when the ruck got larger. Have to admit, however, things got a whole lot better in later years and downright outstanding when I had the money to buy what we needed.

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Old 07-13-2004, 22:11   #15
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In my view, you need to figure what baseline of skill you need. Downhill skiing builds skiing confidence, but is probably wasted otherwise.

You need to be able to move via skis. I was astonished to find the Canadian airborne regiment (before it was rolled up in a PC reaction to some misconduct in Somalia) didn't ski. They snowshoe because it is easier to train someone to snowshoe than to ski.

Well, of course we (SF) were on skis, and we could easily outdistance the snowshod Canucks, not to mention that over any distance they'd be smoked, where skiing is not that difficult.

I was in 10th a long time ago, and we downhilled a lot (we also had a couple of resorts in VT and NH that would spot us lift tickets, and Stowe would actually provide us a place to stay, the "stone hut" atop Mansfield). In the 11th we x-c'd more -- we had to, because we were on an annual treadmill to Norway. I have no doubt we could have skied the legs off of our 10th Group counterparts (we did it to an evaluator or two) but the Norwegian home guard instructors in turn could ski rings around us.

Ultimately. you need to practice living in the cold and snow every couple of years. You can't rely completely on where your AO is (at one time, 2/3 of the SF in Afghanistan was oriented towards Latin America and the other 1/3 towards Southeast Asia). But you don't want to go too far the other way... skiing after all is a means of travelling. It is no different from HALO, SCUBA, or, say, being able to take a sun or star sight and use a set of celestial tables to fix your location. Training in actions on the objective should take priority: bearing in mind that for most SF, cultural orientation will serve you better than stylized door-kicking skills. In two dozen years I never kicked a real live door, but I did talk to a boatload of real live foreigners.

I respectfully differ with the brother that suggested that a forgotten language can be refreshed in 30 days. Maybe: given a young (<30) troop, a very high level of initial language training (the 3/3 you come out of DLI with if you don't booze it up too much), and high-quality, preferable immersion, refresher. I've never seen those circumstances come together, but they could. Conceivably. Unfortunately many troops and leaders consider time spent on language and culture maintenance as "screwing off."

Even when the combat assignment hands you a language and culture other than what you've studied... the more languages you learn the easier the new ones come. You keep the language bits of your cerebrum from drying out.

So... if I was king, I'd stress:

1) cultural/language orientation & area studies. (Not just your area, but everyone in SF better get smart about Afghanistan, Iraq, and other possible Islamist hot spots).

2) Instructional training & preparation. Can every guy on your team teach a class? Through an interpreter? On five minutes' notice? Or, with a day's notice, but with a formal lesson plan? Do you have CDs with basic military subjects, combat subjects, leadership subjects, all ready to go? (Same as class - can everybody give a briefing, targeted to a bunch of privates, or a general staff? If not, get your guys that way).

3) Combat training. IMHO the basic benefit of things like SFAUC is exactly why Gen. Boykin launched it: to develop combat confidence in teams. If your SFAUC creates divisions rather than bonds between teammates it needs a rethink badly.

Every man on your team (ODA and ODB) needs to be able to put every US and foreign weapon he is likely to encounter into action, do immediate action, reload, and HIT with it. This means .50, DShK, mortars, Javelin. NOT just your 18Bs. You don't want your Mk-19 to go silent because the belt just ran out and your doc is looking at it like a hog looking at a wristwatch.

The other side of that is, every team member needs a much bigger subset of the doc's skills than is normally recognised. EVERY man MUST be able to: suture, tourniquet, intubate, and do a cutdown & tie-off. There's no way to build real confidence in this without you-know-what, but you don't want one of your guys to be the one that died from a survivable wound, like one SF soldier in this war, because there was no medic on the patrol, and no one understood that pneumothorax was slowly asphyxiating him.

4) Next in priority is infiltration and movement skills. Of those, I'd put IADs at the top. IADs are what bring you home. They are what gets you over the shock and leads you to regain the initiative.

5) Finally, special skills. SOTIC, ASOT, climbing, CIF type stuff, parachuting (s/l and halo), SCUBA. These are all real good skills to have as a person or on your team. But they are the tail of SF skills -- don't let them wag the dog.

When you add this all up, even before you throw in all the BS annual training requirements the Army throws at you, there's way more training to do than fits in any mortal calendar - so you prioritize, and you train the least perishable skills (static line parachuting, for instance) at longer intervals. Team skills (IADs) are less durable than individual skills, because each personnel change alters the dynamic of the team -- some a little, some a lot. Collective skills at the group level are usually exercised once every year or two; at the ODB there are some doctrinal ODB missions (Area Command for one) that very seldom get exercised. Some ODBs haven't run an isolation area in ten years. FOBs don't get exercised enough either. It's just the nature of the beast

There's no reason you can't train higher and lower priority skills at the same time, especially in an FTX environment.

This is just my opinion, and we all know what opinions are like....

-nose
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