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Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise

A UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron  lifts a simulated casualty above the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron lifts a simulated casualty above the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Reynolds, 891st Missile Security Forces Squadron response force leader, crouches in rotor wash inside the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a field training exercise. During the exercise, 91st Security Forces Group defenders coordinated simulated medical evacuations with two 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Reynolds, 891st Missile Security Forces Squadron response force leader, crouches in rotor wash inside the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a field training exercise. During the exercise, 91st Security Forces Group defenders coordinated simulated medical evacuations with two 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Staff Sgt. Patrick Wilson, 91st Security Forces Group response force leader, watches a defender perform self-aid buddy care on a simulated casualty in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After performing SABC, 91st SFG defenders vectored in a 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois to evacuate the casualty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Staff Sgt. Patrick Wilson, 91st Security Forces Group response force leader, watches a defender perform self-aid buddy care on a simulated casualty in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After performing SABC, 91st SFG defenders vectored in a 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois to evacuate the casualty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Defenders from the 91st Security Forces Group stand near a fire during a field training exercise in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After navigating to a landing zone, Airmen created a signal fire by adding grass to the burning brushwood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Defenders from the 91st Security Forces Group stand near a fire during a field training exercise in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After navigating to a landing zone, Airmen created a signal fire by adding grass to the burning brushwood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender holds a M18 smoke grenade over a signal fire in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. The signal fire’s heat lifts the M18’s green smoke for better signaling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 91st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender holds a M18 smoke grenade over a signal fire in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. The signal fire’s heat lifts the M18’s green smoke for better signaling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Defenders from the 91st Security Forces Group vector in a helicopter in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to the landing zone and performed a simulated emergency medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Defenders from the 91st Security Forces Group vector in a helicopter in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to the landing zone and performed a simulated emergency medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers above the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, the 54th HS coordinated with defenders to drop a forest penetrator and lift an Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers above the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, the 54th HS coordinated with defenders to drop a forest penetrator and lift an Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers over the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers over the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers over the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

A 54th Helicopter Squadron UH-1N Iroquois hovers over the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018, during a 91st Security Forces Group field training exercise. During the FTX, defenders vectored the aircraft to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Members of the 91st Security Forces Group perform self-aid buddy care on a simulated casualty in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After stabilizing the casualty, defenders vectored in a rescue helicopter for an emergency medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)
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Members of the 91st Security Forces Group perform self-aid buddy care on a simulated casualty in the Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After stabilizing the casualty, defenders vectored in a rescue helicopter for an emergency medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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Airmen from the 91st Security Forces Group use an M18 smoke grenade to signal a UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. The signal fire’s heat lifts the M18 smoke grenade’s green smoke for better signaling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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An Airman from the 91st Security Forces Group fills out a medical evacuation request during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. During the FTX, defenders vectored two UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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Staff Sgt. Nicole Weatherby, 91st Security Support Squadron response force member, waits for a UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. During the FTX, defenders vectored two UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron to a landing zone and performed a simulated medical evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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Airmen from the 91st Security Forces Group signal a UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. After navigating to a landing zone, Airmen created a signal fire and used M18 smoke grenades to signal the helicopter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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Airmen from the 91st Security Forces Group are hoisted onto a UH-1N Iroquois assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. During the training, 91st SFG Airmen learned survival techniques including; how to build shelters and fires, set snares, navigate to a landing zone and vector rescue helicopters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Braving the cold: 91st SFG participates in survival exercise
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Lt. Col. James Slaton, 91st Security Forces Group deputy commander, teaches 91st SFG Airmen how to test berries for consumption during a winter survival field training exercise in Turtle Mountain State Forest, N.D., Feb. 14, 2018. During the training, 91st SFG Airmen learned survival techniques including; how to build shelters and fires, set snares, navigate to a landing zone and vector rescue helicopters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

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.”