Trial by Snow: Training Navy SEALs to Deal with the Cold

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Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Menzie

Navy SEAL trainees participate in a long-range navigation exercise high in the Alaskan mountains

Turns out the coolest Navy SEALs, those belonging to SEAL Team 6 (or the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, as they are officially known) need special training to operate in the cold.

This sounds like part of the SEALs’ routine regimen (although Battleland always thought SEAL stood for Sea-Air-Land and not Snow-Air-Land). It’s part of the investment the nation makes to ensure there’s a top-notch special-ops force ready to tackle the toughest missions anywhere in the world, from tropics to tundra.

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The SEALs are seeking someone to teach them high-altitude skills and techniques next month near Park City, Utah. “The purpose of this training event is to increase our command member’s current level of knowledge and performance in the area of Winter Environment Survival,” a recent contract solicitation says.

SEAL Team 6’s requirements include:

— Site must be at or above an altitude of 6000 ft to emulate operational conditions overseas.

— Site must receive several inches of snow per week in the winter months that must be above 6000 ft. and must have several established ski courses.

— Training must be in the Park City, UT or vicinity area to facilitate troop’s location for follow-on training on following week.  Follow on training will be in UT.

— Vendor must have an established program designed for the military and have past experience working with special operations personnel regarding mountaineering and cold weather/high altitude training for no less than two years.

–Vendor shall provide education and training that must cover theory, application, and proper techniques for the following subjects; AT Ski/Back country ski, Avalanche Survival and recognition, mountain movement.

— Vendor shall also facilitate in the logistics of and security de-confliction at airport for loading and unloading gear.

— Vendor shall provide a five day course of instruction (40 hour minimum) from 13 to 17 March for 18 students at an instructor student ratio of 4-1 that will incorporate the previously stated requirements by using both academic sessions in the classroom setting as well as practical applications throughout the training facility.

— Vendor shall provide guides/instructors and guided services for All Terrain Ski/Avalanche Survival and Recognition/ mountain.

— Instructors must be able to impart the newest survival measures that have proven successful in actual situation.

Beyond all that, the instructors must be skilled in:

— High altitude sickness signs and symptoms and how to treat them.

— Different types of high altitude terrain and how to traverse them.

— Survival skills at high altitude/cold weather to include building effective shelters and heating.

— Potential avalanche areas/conditions.

— Use and care of cold weather equipment.

— Packing gear in rucksacks as well as Polks.

— Moving via snow shoes, skis and crampons

— Proper ascending and descending of terrain with rucksacks and Polks ski equipment.

— Necessary gear needed to climb ice safely and proficiently.

The Navy wants a classroom big enough for 18 students, complete with “Wi-Fi internet access, printer, and big screen monitor for presentations and debriefs” as well as “a DOD approved secure storage containers to store weapons and sensitive gear. “

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The winning contractor, the solicitation notes, needs to stay silent about the assignment:

The vendor will not take any photos or videos of the students without prior approval from either the senior military member present or the trip leader. Media contact will not be authorized for this training event and specific details about who the students are, where they are staying during the training, and where they are from should not be disclosed to anyone not a part of the vendor’s staff.

Sounds like fun anyway.

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