CURRENT COLD WEATHER OPERATIONS HERE FROM US ARMY HOOAH 4 HEALTH. THIS IS REQUIRED READING, MAYNARD!!! (If your name is NOT Maynard, this is still required reading!!!)
PLEASE NOTE: SNOW DOG 2010 WILL NOT BE AT CAMP STASA. THERE IS A NEW LOCATION WHICH IS NOT GOING TO BE ANNOUNCED PUBLICLY. PLEASE E-MAIL US IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT ATTENDING. FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT PROPERLY GEARED OR PREPARED, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.
SNOW DOG 2010
SNOW DOG 2010 VIDEO
SNOW DOG GEAR LIST
CLICK HERE FOR SPIFFY SNOWDOG VIDEO
CLICK HERE FOR MORE FUN WINTER TRAINING FOOTAGE
CLICK HERE FOR WINTER CAMOUFLAGE COMPARISON
SNOW DOG 2009
"Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me..." -Barney
The only thing harder than dragging a gear-laden sled across half a mile of snowy ground is dragging a gear-laden sled across half a mile of non-snowy cornfield.
Over the weekend of February 6th, 7th, and 8th, a grand total of ten people came to participate in what turned out to be a muddy, warm, "winter" training weekend.
One of the tents, this one relatively camouflaged.... D-Day checks his team.....
Temperatures ranged from the high twenties at night, to right around fifty during the day. The snow melted nearly completely away by Sunday morning. Yeah, "Snow Dog", alright.
I arrived Friday evening, after a surprisingly easy and pleasant drive. My van was serving as a back-up support vehicle, so I had the extra food and water. There was NO driving back to the range area, as even Hatter's trusty quad runner had issues with the snow depth in some places. Being the de-facto support guy, I was going to have to make several sled runs. Yay, me...
I pulled the sled back along the road, and encountered some of the deeper areas that had bogged down the quad runner. Still, with snow on the road, the sled was not so terribly hard to drag. As long as the snow remained, this promised to be a good winter training weekend.
Hatter stayed in the front Friday night to prevent any attempted vehicle tomfoolery. A good handful of folks were on hand in the back, and we discussed stand down and stand to procedures, and kicked around the coming weekend's training schedule.
The primary purpose of Snow Dog is to see how individual militia members can survive and operate in a winter environment. What grew to become increasingly lacking as the weekend wore on was the "winter" part.
Most stayed in their own tents Friday, but I crashed out in The Griffin's Den. There was no real need to maintain a fire in the stove, as it wasn't terribly cold. I was still wearing shorts. I have a minus fifteen bag from Gander Mountain, so there wasn't an issue there.
Saturday morning supply run.
Saturday morning at daybreak, I encouraged the troops with the customary singing of Barney The Dinosaur's "Mr. Golden Sun" song, which is always received in such a positive fashion. Mr. Golden sun did indeed begin to shine down on us...
Good camo. It's better when prone, though... Look at the camo patterns....What works well?
Good comparison of camo patterns in these two pictures. Gray might be the best...
Moving. Hands and gloves. What can you see???
We had some guests from out of state arrive, some students from Indiana, and they came along on our winter movement drill, even having brought along a nice selection of firearms. Students are always encouraged to come along, whether to just check us out, or to do (semi-) serious research about the militia movement or coco puffs or whatever.
The movement was early, before everything melted away. From the above pictures, you can see that snow camo worked well when kneeling or prone, and woodland worked better than you would think. Overall, we think some kind of muted gray or tree bark pattern would be good all around in the winter.
Weapon M inspecting a new rifle, while Hatter sports mucho spiffiness.... Shooting from the prone. Not everyone uses a tarp.....
We then went on to do some shooting drills, as per our schedule. (How often do you read that phrase on our report? "As per our schedule.") Most folks shot well, and I was impressed with Javaman's pistol grip with built in bipod. I was also impressed that he had a sweet left-handed AR. Those are not easy to find these days.
My own particular groupings tended to the right. Everything. I consider it to be because of my gloves. I don't normally shoot with winter gloves on, so this is something to consider.
Some of the folks moved up for a brief sighting in and adjustment period.
Shooting with ski poles.
Another drill on our schedule was shooting with ski poles. There was no real way to "lock" them tightly together. It might be better than nothing, but some kind of "V" support or something on one of the poles would be excellent. Still, it was something to try.
The "drag the sled and get behind it and shoot" drill. This is fun.
Then, we did one of the more fun drills. The exercise involved dragging a sled on to the range and then using your sled as cover, shooting ten rounds (or so) at one of the targets. You can see in the above pictures that the snow was melting as we we doing this.
Mitch from PA out to visit. Do NOT eat the Coco Puffs.
Another visitor was Mitch, who has a Pennsylvania Snow Dog video on Youtube. He is attending Kettering University in nearby Flint. Good to meet him.
Because of the vanishing snow, we missed out on some of the scheduled drills. It was too warm to have to thaw any water. The was not enough snow to do any sled evacuation drills, and the overall health risk of doing ambush drills in a soup of slush and muck was not worth it. So it became somewhat of an open shoot time. Which is never bad.
Everybody wants one of these.
Everybody wants one of these, too. Notice the lack of snow. Saturday, this made it back to the range.
During this time, I set up my tent. I have camped a lot in the past, but this time I made an error. I set up too close to the outhouse. The melting water caused everything to rise up and float, and the warm weather made a nice bubbly scent to waft over toward my tent. Sunday morning I was basically awakened by the smell. Yuck. Never again.
When you learn how to use a P-38, you can lick the pudding lid.
Yum! Dig this!
Thumper was recovering from pneumonia, but he had the foresight to deploy the slated food with yours truly. After we figured out the stove, we heated up the corn and stew. Hatter became very thoroughly familiar with the P38 can opener, and after successfully using it to open the butterscotch pudding, his reward was getting to lick the lid. Yum. Everyone was impressed with Thumper's "Squad Meal in A Box" set-up. You can read about it on our support page. Seven people shared in a 15 person meal. Seconds for everyone!!!
Sunday morning swamp action.
Sunday, we conducted more interviews with our student friend, and some of us rolled out early. There was an incident involving an H&K USP .45 and some handloaded ammo. We will post more about this as soon as we have concluded our own investigation. This has been reported to have have happened several times with a certain Livingston County law enforcement community. It involves older brass and the fact that the H&K pistols are ramped down into a slightly oval shape so they will feed more reliably. There was only a minor injury and H&K will repair the gun for a fee. More details soon, maybe even in a separate write up, with the permission of those involved.
One other thing we learned: Don't rely exclusively on snow camo. Even in winter, snow will melt, and you will stick out without proper camo. Either have snow camo that you can remove easily, or bring a set of woodland or other camo, just in case.
It was an excellent Snow Dog, despite the warm weather.
You can view more photos here.
SNOW DOG 2008
FEBRUARY 1ST, 2ND, AND 3RD
No less than SEVEN snow camo patterns!!!!
Feb 1st-3rd, 2008, Camp Stasa, Michigan
Temps in the high 20's to low 30's. Mostly cloudy. A few inches of snow on the ground. Moderate breeze. Occasional very light drizzle.
A small handful of hearty militiapersons deployed to Camp Stasa over the weekend for our annual winter survival training.
A minor storm had passed through Southeast Michigan Friday, and some local roads, including a few freeways, were coated with patches of ice in areas, making driving hazardous. The I75-I69 interchange was reported to have several vehicles in ditch-diving mode, (I witnessed this Friday night, but emergency vehicles were already there...) and Saturday also saw reports of I69 and I96 with areas either closed or reportedly in dangerous condition. We always advise people to stay home instead of risking serious injury or vehicular damage by driving on ice covered roads. That still holds true.
Two die hard militia dogs showed up for duty Friday night, Chuckwagon and Weapon M. Chuckwagon had actually deployed extra extra early Friday and had the camp up and running.
We checked out the area, and set up a signal lamp (a very nice single burner propane lantern from Meijer's, I think) and watched for the teeming hordes of militia people to come.
After a spell in Thumper Guard Chair mode, I went to set up in the tent.
Minus 15 Guide Gear bag. Toasty. Sled. Just one. By itself.
Having experienced a major gear related malfunction on my sleeping bag last year, I had acquired a new, heftier bag from Gander Mountain, a heavier minus fifteen degree bag. This bag is somewhat wider than my previous military-issue bag, too. I think we are looking at a thirty nine inch wide bag versus a thirty three inch bag. I also added a better, self inflating sleeping pad to the overall sleep ensemble. Together, they set me back about $140, but even for one weekend, they are worth it.
I think sometimes a lot of us squeak by or skimp on comfortable items for reasons of cost or wanting to seem a bit more hardcore. Maybe at 40, I am starting to consider things like a warmer bag or a thicker, better pad more than I would have at 20 or 30. I also considered that I have absolutely NO shortage of people to pass my older gear down to, either.
Saturday morning came and the small, but dedicated crew started filtering in with reports of icy roads and ditch diving vehicles.
We checked some gear and and camo, and those that sledded in had good set-ups. Shadow had some newer stuff to try out, tent, bag, and other sleeping accoutrements. His camo was outstanding!
Text on tent translates as: "Bite me, Sparky!"
Above left: The Griffin's Den. Right: The Milsurp Hilton.
After a gear check and tent set-up, we did a few fire and movement drills, with the caveat that this was only ONE way, and a rather simple, dangerous one at that, to accomplish an objective. Ideally, we should avoid these types of assaults, and interdict targets such as observation posts and the like at much greater distances and with minimal exposure to risk. Sometimes, however, you have to just charge up the gullet and do the deed, and this is what we practiced.
Shadow is well-camouflaged, but his gear is not. Buds helped with the new tent!!
After some discussion, we did a walk-through, and then a trot-though. Movement and commo among the teams/units went well. Hand and arm signals were worked out and the drill was good.
Weapon M, Shadow and Bishop
Alpha team ready to move.
Following this, D-Day shot for record, and thusly did complete his re-qualifying for Level One. Good job, D-Day, and kudos for qualifying when the weather sucks majorly! The road was basically a bunch of snow covered ice with some occasional mud holes for extra yuckiness. He did the two miles in just a bit over 31 minutes, which is good time even for sunny weather.
In this type of condition, you need to watch your footing closely to avoid serious knee or ankle injuries. Getting some of those strap on ice grabber things (help me out here, guys) that mail carriers sometimes put on their boots might be a worthwhile investment here, too.
Bishop demonstrated some tracers rounds, which kicked in between 80 and 100 yards. They would be much more effective at longer ranges, but were still neat to see. He also did some close range low light shooting with his Surefire Nitrolon G2 mounted on his AR.
The Surefire really does the trick!
Because of the lower turnout, we just kept eating ravioli and crackers for meals. Yum!
See what YOU missed! Yum yum!!!!
Although I must mention that the Mott's Hot Apple Cider mixes were just awesome! You should pick up a few for your pack or for your food supplies. Thanks to D-Day for that.
After further considerations, some of the crew headed on out and five remained. Between 0200 and 0300, I pulled a guard shift and did a short walk through of the camp area. It was quiet and really not too cold, so I just had no coat and just my Glock. The snow reflected any ambient light, and visibility was good. The snow and ice also provided sort of a natural early warning system, as we would have heard anyone approaching rather easily.
Sunday morning saw a relatively early bug out, as we wrapped up our umpteenth annual winter overnighter!
All-important hygiene!!! Insulation on the harness!
Bravo Team moving out. Look for good camo here!
THE FOLLOWING FIELD REPORTS ARE FROM WINTER TRAINING EVENTS WHICH ULTIMATELY EVOLVED INTO WHAT WE NOW CALL "SNOW DOG", ALL OF WHICH, EXCEPT FOR "CRUNCHY RABBIT HEAD", INVOLVED SOME SORT OF OVERNIGHT STAY:
OPERATION SNOW SPIDER 2000
OPERATION BRIGHT FURY 2001
OPERATION SINISTER DIVOT 2002
OPERATION CRUNCHY RABBIT HEAD 2003
SNOW DOG 2004
SNOW DOG 2005
SNOW DOG 2006
READ BELOW ABOUT THE SENSIBLY ABORTED SNOW DOG 2007
Safety concerns override the need for training, and militia units dismissed from Camp Stasa at 1300hrs on Saturday, Feb 3rd.
It was something we had never done before, something that we probably had never even considered. But as temperatures dropped, wind picked up, and The NOAA weather report warned of even worsening conditions throughout the state, we had to bring it up:
Should we call it a day and send the troops home early?
After consulting with the leadership of the varied units present, we reached the common sense decision, and ended the exercise early. This was not something that was done lightly, and we struggled with it. We heard no objections from those present, and everyone seemed to agree that the safety and health of our members was more important than whatever additional training could be gained under the worsening and dangerous conditions.
That being said, everyone who showed up this past weekend is truly a dedicated, true blue (literally), hardcore patriot. Yeah, we might have a twinge of regret for not staying out a second night, but everyone who came out deserves credit for enduring the nightmarish cold and wind. We even give a shout of respect out to Holly and Patrick for showing up to photograph and videotape some of our operations.
Here is a report of what DID happen:
Members from several local militia units arrived to conduct a recon and set camp. Much was up and running by the time I arrived with the medical attachment. There was a fire going up front, and the stove in the tent was heating up nicely. The Medic and I noted the multiple tents that were set up, and promptly did the standard "die-in-place", throw a sleeping bag on the ground technique.
I was using my GI extreme cold weather bag with a foldable German sleeping pad underneath, and a poncho liner for added warmth. The pad was too thin, and the bag had a broken zipper. Talk about comfort city!
There were more than a dozen patriots in the cold that night. I brought along some home made stew to heat on the tent stove, and the fellas enjoyed it thoroughly. Kudos to the chef! We had a gate guard, and a fire watch/range guard all night. I doubled my guard shift, getting the delightful midnight to two AM shift. After four in the morning, we pulled the gate guard back and he assumed range guard duties until it was time to wake the peeps.
It reached at least down to a mere two degrees above zero overnight. Anyone who stayed out in that frigid environment is hardcore all the way through to their frozen guts. Having a functional bag with a working zipper would have been nice, but shivering can also have a fun warming effect.
I have decided to get a bigger, colder rated bag. This is not bad advice.
After a freezing night, but one during which guard duty was successfully maintained, we started getting up around six. There was some minor grumbling about getting out of a sleeping bag when it is two degrees or colder, but when I started singing "Barney" songs, that was the last bit of encouragement they needed. Stand to was initiated at 0645, after a quick briefing by Black Jack and myself. Black Jack then attempted to circle and infiltrate or position. This tested our alertness, and also tested the effectiveness of his stunningly beautiful ASAT camo pattern jacket. JJ spotted Black Jack, by alertly watching for movement. When still, the ASAT jacket and face mask rendered Black Jack virtually invisible. Seems like that could end up being the camo of choice from October to March or so.
Then it was personal hygiene and breakfast time. It was cold, very, very cold, but so far, we were having a damn good Snow Dog. Good guard duty, a successful stand to, were signs of an excellent training weekend. Except, it was cold enough to hurt, really hurt these guys. We couldn't keep water in liquid form, except by keeping it in the tent, or setting it by the fire. (Hunter thawed a plastic canteen(!) by setting it in a canteen cup and heating that...) We still advise folks to not try thawing a plastic canteen, but it was good to see someone actually do it.
Field hygiene. Do it.
We then moved into a short march to warm up, a gear check for the handful who wished to try qualifying today, and a firewood detail.
More folks showed up, including other units, and there was a class and exercise concerning maneuver warfare and small-unit flexibility.
With mixed camo, Patriots stand eager to learn.
We were checking gear and L1 and L2 abilities among the handful of those who wished to qualify. Thumper was setting up a support table and shelter. Thanks to the hands that offered to help. It was hard with the wind picking up.
Thumper with support table, being interviewed by Patrick.
JJ and The Medic shoot for record.
After the shoot, the wind really began to kick up and we actually first started giving some consideration to calling an early end to our training. After a quick listen to the NOAA weather report, we discovered that there were several storm warnings for the western and central part of the state, including a winter storm warning for Eaton County, which is the next county over. We also learned that the temperatures would keep dropping while the wind was picking up. We were concerned about wind chills which would be close to thirty degrees below zero. There was also the concern of driving in white out conditions, which were also being reported.
I talked to some of the other present leadership, and they agreed that staying out in this weather would constitute a safety and health hazard. I also consulted with the senior medical person on site, and he also agreed.
Nobody seemed to object at this prospect, and tents and shelters were rapidly pulled down and packed away. (Ha. One of the benefits of crashing in place is that you have no shelter to break down.)
I am happy to report that even in these brutal conditions, Militiamedic AND Hunter qualified Level 2. Truly brutal. Truly hardcore. Truly militia.
Thanks to everyone who showed up. This includes Holly and Patrick. All of you are hardcore for showing up and doing militia stuff in the painfully frigid weather.
We decided that later on this year, we will designate another official overnighter. Not that we can make up for a lost day or anything, but it will make us happy.
It was cold, and we went home early, but it still rocked.
ADDITIONAL WINTER TRAINING MAY BE FOUND IN THESE COMPILED TRAINING ARCHIVES
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