Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
By Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong, 5th Bomb Wing
/ Published February 20, 2018
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Several defenders from the 91st Security Forces Group participated in cold-weather survival training inside the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 12-14, 2018.
The field training exercise challenged 12 junior leaders to accomplish multiple tasks spanning three days, in varying cold-weather conditions. The winter-familiarization FTX tested not only the Airmens’ tactical and operational skills, but also developed their everyday leadership abilities and resiliency.
“The FTX is based on the Arctic Survival School hosted by Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska,” said Lt. Col. James Slaton, 91st SFG deputy commander. “We have a challenging and cold environment most of the year, and by dropping them out here for 36 - 48 hrs., it enables them to better deal with day-to-day operations in the cold.”
The training consisted of shelter and fire building, setting snares, land navigation and rescue coordination with the 54th HS. Airmen familiarized themselves with how their equipment works in low temperatures and how the weather affects the human body.
“For the first day of training, we came out and learned how to make fires and traps. We set up a hasty-shelter, which is something we’d do if we got lost close to nightfall,” said Staff Sgt. Garrett Britton, 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron missile defense operation controller. “On day two, we learned about land navigation, how to make a signal fire and an A-frame shelter, which is more survivable if you have to stay out longer in the cold.”
On the final day of training, defenders navigated to a landing zone and provided self-aid buddy care to a simulated casualty. Two 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois vectored in, via radio by defenders on the ground, to provide an emergency medical evacuation for the casualty.
After the training concluded, Airmen were reminded that their determination to survive and resiliency was the key to surviving a life-or-death scenario.
“I knew the basics of land navigation, but never really put it into practice,” stated Britton. “I learned how to really survive in the cold, and with these new techniques, I could definitely do it again.”