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, Bishop, and Shadow
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!
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!!!)
CLICK HERE FOR SPIFFY SNOWDOG VIDEO
CLICK HERE FOR MORE FUN WINTER TRAINING FOOTAGE
CLICK HERE FOR WINTER CAMOUFLAGE COMPARISON
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.
Like ghosts through the woods, The Hutaree close on their objective.
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.
Now! Because it's truly spiffy, The OCV Snow Dog report.
ADDITIONAL WINTER TRAINING MAY BE FOUND IN THESE COMPILED TRAINING ARCHIVES
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