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Winter Warfare

This topic contains 146 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of First Sergeant First Sergeant 1 year ago.

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  • #53819
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    As the cold sets in for the winter in the northern latitudes, I’ve been giving consideration to it’s effect on combat operations. I kinda find it strange that winter warfare gets interpreted as arctic warfare. This is not meant as a winter survival type thread. I’m specifically interested in tactical considerations during combat operations below freezing.

    Part of me says it’s just a matter of sucking it up but at some point, cold weather WILL have an affect on the abilities of the unit.

    @Max @firstsergeant @John3X , any key tips/considerations?

    #53820
    Profile photo of BrigandActual
    BrigandActual
    Participant

    From my time living and hiking in Montana, I learned that sweat is a problem. There is a balance to be found between comfort in the cold via insulating layers, and the amount of sweat produced during exertion. Wet gear will freeze, and damp clothes will cause nasty problems once the exertion ends.

    It might have just been the rifle at the time, but I found that very cold temperatures caused rifles to have trouble cycling with low pressure ammo.

    Also, speaking of rifles, a lot of the fancy whiz bang stainless barrels out there are not ideal in very cold temperatures. They can become brittle and suffer durability problems.

    "Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

    Matt B - VA

    #53821
    Profile photo of Robert
    Robert
    Participant

    Only time I’ve trained in snow was first FOF class last year, it started snowing lightly during class.

    ACU pattern in general sucks, maybe decent out West?? but has anyone tried it in dirty snow conditions?

    www.jrhenterprises.com
    RMP, TC3, NODF, CRCD 6/14, CP 9/14. NODF, Land Nav, 6/15. Rifleman Challenge 9/15- Vanguard. FOFtactics 3/16, 10/16, 11/16, 6/17,11/17 CTT, 6/15, 11/16, , LRMC-1 9/17 GA Mobile CTT and DA 10/16, GA mobile DCH 3/18, HEAT1 3/18 Alum weekend 8/18, Opfor CLC 10/18, DA 11/18 CQBC 12/18

    #53823
    Profile photo of Hello Kitty (Craig)
    hellokitty
    Participant

    Especially in NE, the loss of foliage changes the potential ranges of contact and increases visibility and observation.

    CTT 1502, NODF 1502, CP 1503, RC 002- Rifleman, FoF x 2, Run and Gun, RS/CTT, CLC, CQBC, Heat 1

    Craig S.

    #53824
    Profile photo of Socks
    Socks
    Participant

    Funny… was just thinking about this myself. Don’t know why but maybe cause of all the damn snow up here in Michigan lol. One thing I really need is more winter specific hiking boot. Something lightweight but warm enough for sub zero temps and able to handle heasvy snow. But it also randomly gets warm and rains so that leaves me wondering gortex… no gortex… any experience and tips?

    The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle anywhere, any time and with utter recklessness.

    Robert A. Heinlein

    #53825
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    speaking of rifles

    It’s not that big of a deal, but I’ve had issues in cold weather with inserting pmags. I think the aluminum mag well shrinks much more than the pmags, and so they require some extra force to get in. It’s not going to keep a gun out of the fight, but it would definitely slow down some reloads when you aren’t used to it.

    Especially in NE, the loss of foliage changes the potential ranges of contact and increases visibility and observation.

    Good thinking! The difference in one of my local hiking spots is substantial. In the summer visibility can be as little as 5 yds, now the same spot is 25-35yds easy. I’ve also noticed just how many thorns there are in places I previously hadn’t noticed.

    A few other thoughts I’ve had:

    -With snow on the ground, tracking can become “so-easy-a-caveman-could-do-it”. That in itself could compromise missions or complicate recces

    -Snow could muffle footsteps if soft and powdery or heighten noise if it’s the crunchy type. Either way, it would slow down team movement (at least without skis).

    -Cold weather could mean heavier loads for extended missions. This would have to be taken into account in conjunction with the team’s health/fitness. Rest stops on the mountain anyone?

    -@Socks , footwear in winter has always been a tricky thing for me. I’ve tried lightweight hiking boots with extra insulation and got very mild frostbite on the tips of some toes after a few hours. After that, I got Kamik snow boots. They’re clunky and heavy, but they beat getting frostbite. I’m still in search of a high mobility cold weather boot.

    -Someone without experience might mistake piles of snow for cover, a great opportunity to capitalize.

    Some questions I’ve been contemplating:

    -At what point does the cold start to affect cheap baofengs?

    -Will standard EMT shears be able to cut through winter clothing to treat a casualty? Also, how hard is it to keep a combat casualty warm (enough)?

    -From a tactical perspective, is there anything wrong with hand/feet warmers?

    -You might have to change the way you store/carry water in cold weather vs your warm weather setup. Has anyone ever had a hydration bladder freeze while on the move? Mine never have, but maybe it wasn’t cold enough?

    #53826
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    This is not meant as a winter survival type thread.

    In extreme cold weather (ECW) they can’t be seperated.

    Regarding electronic devices…

    The real value of using Lithium batteries is there long life and superior performance in cold weather.

    LCD screens can freeze.

    In general know the operational limits.

    Check out these Threads then ask questions.

    Some cold weather training thoughts.

    Cold Weather Gear- After Action Reports

    Cold Weather Gear

    Need advice on shelter options

    The Ageless Zeltbahn….My Hard Weather Evasion Shelter

    Observations and some advice

    #53827
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    -You might have to change the way you store/carry water in cold weather vs your warm weather setup. Has anyone ever had a hydration bladder freeze while on the move? Mine never have, but maybe it wasn’t cold enough?

    Depending on temperature/time everything freezes and requires your body heat to keep it warm. Hydration bladder tubes will freeze first and are very succeptable.

    #53828
    Profile photo of wheelsee
    wheelsee
    Participant

    Our forefathers have some good information…….why re-invent the wheel???

    http://www.rogersrangers.com/pdf/senior/locked/Jerry_Knitis_locked.pdf

    http://www.thehistoryreader.com/modern-history/robert-rogers-early-ranger-warriors/

    Which is heavier - a soldier's pack or a slave's chains? Napoleon

    Strength, Honor. Maximus (Gladiator)

    If you tolerate evil, you yourself are evil.
    Col Hugo Martinez, Commander Search Bloc

    William, in The Republic - CRS/CTT 2017, HEAT 2/CQB/FonF 2018, DCH 2018

    #53829
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Remember ECW is relative also, consider the following…

    I have mentioned this case before…
    4 Army Ranger Candidates Die in Chilly Florida Swamp

    Col. Galen Jackman, commander of the Ranger Training Brigade at Eglin, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying yesterday that the water temperature was 52 degrees, just above the 50-degree threshold set in 1977 after two soldiers died from hypothermia during Ranger training. The air temperature was in the 60’s after several days of chilly weather.

    Cold water (less than 70°F) can lower your body temperature, causing hypothermia. The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air.

    Remember those Rangers in the above article, trained physically fit servicemen with professional instructors providing supervision and still 4 died.

    Lack of respect to these dangers is very costly!

    Repeated for emphasis!
    Remember those Rangers in the above article, trained physically fit servicemen with professional instructors providing supervision and still 4 died.

    Lack of respect to these dangers is very costly!

    #53831
    Profile photo of Trailman
    trailman
    Participant

    The links probably contain these comments. As someone who hunts. Heat management is the biggest issue I encounter. You need to manage layers as you go. Just a little on movement and you will quickly overheat and sweat if you are two heavily layered, then you will freeze on stop. I can soak just getting in 1/4 mi into a stand if I don’t strip down to a shirt and carry be over garments. Our CP class was a prime example. I’d look at the heat management as its won tactical problem in itself.

    1Sgt probably has some good ideas on low temp operations of weapons from his alpine training but I don’t know what you are considering low temp. Around here that’s generally the 30’s, a clean lubed weapon should run fine. Temps will kill you in an hour but you can shoot.

    Consider we just spent the week with our living history group in Colonial Williamsburg I can appreciate the RR reference. I love my 1756 wool clothing.

    CRM, CTT 1501, CP11/15, CTT5/16, FoF, DCH, CLC Opfor, Team Minion

    Just remember, Anne Frank was a criminal because the government made her one and she died because she broke the law.

    #53833
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    Joe has posted some good info.

    Lots more to consider. I will give a more detailed answer tomorrow.

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #53837
    Profile photo of Hello Kitty (Craig)
    hellokitty
    Participant

    Change out your canteens with wide mouth Nalgene bottles. Why you ask? You can break the ice up at top of your canteen with a knife to get to the water. Also if you store your canteen upside down in pouch, in freezing weather, then the ice forms at the bottom of your canteen allowing you to drink. Now if it is frozen solid, then your SOL, you have to use your body or a fire to melt.

    CTT 1502, NODF 1502, CP 1503, RC 002- Rifleman, FoF x 2, Run and Gun, RS/CTT, CLC, CQBC, Heat 1

    Craig S.

    #53846
    Profile photo of Mike Q
    Mike Q
    Participant

    Another trick is to put your canteen in the sleeping bag with you.

    There never seems to be enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it twice.

    CRM Sept. 2014, CTT 1505, CTT July 2015, RC-Rifleman 1502, CP Nov. 2015, FoF March 2016, CCW May 2016, FoF Oct. 2016, FoF Nov. 2016, CLC April 2017, FoF Nov. 2017, Alumni weekend Aug. 2018, CQB Dec. 2018

    #53851
    Profile photo of Roadkill
    Roadkill
    Participant

    Anyone using any of the double wall thermal containers, like a yeti? I haven’t, just asking. Like the growlers.

    RS/CTT Nov 16
    HEAT1 Aug18

    #53859
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    Get some GI arctic canteens.

    #53860
    Profile photo of BrigandActual
    BrigandActual
    Participant

    I have them, but don’t use them like that. I have steel single wall canteens/bottles so I can heat them directly over fire. Can’t do that with double wall.

    "Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery

    Matt B - VA

    #53861
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    There are many options, the key is finding one that works for you, and testing it now to verify effectiveness.

    I know many here only pay lip service to it, but a properly done IPB provides weather data for your AO to include the extremes.

    So-called winter warfare is extremely unforgiving and not being prepared for it at best will lead to permanent injury.

    Consider cutting a hole in the ice to get to the water, having a purification tablet at the ready since the ice begins to form in seconds, and the tablet must be inserted before this takes place. Then placing canteen in between inner and outer layer to keep from freezing.

    Why not use a filter?

    It’s too cold and these freezing conditions will destroy filter element allowing contaminants in.

    Now imagine the extreme diarrhea because of this error in preparation which could lead to death quickly due to a combination of dehydration, hypothermia from defecating in your trousers, or if you get pants down possible gangrene from extreme frost bite to rear end and/or gentials!

    Fun stuff.

    Maybe your AO doesn’t get this cold, but above example is one of many things that threatens living long enough to possibly get shot in the warfare part.

    As far as heating canteens, sure if the situation allows it, but what if you can’t be using such thermal beacons in warfare due to the situation.

    when is the last time you actually slept in your AO’s worst extremes in the field?

    Can you live in these conditions for a few days, weeks?

    How about conducting operations in addition to surviving?

    And not be crippled as a result?

    These skills need to be second nature so you can be focused on the warfare part which is just as deadly.

    #53872
    Profile photo of Roadkill
    Roadkill
    Participant

    My AO. Winter is below zero or single digits. It was 7 degrees the other morning. I’ll ice fish in this weather, sometimes up to eight hours. I love my Wiggys thermals and mukluks. I don’t get cold. True with the filters, they will freeze. I use a Lifestraw, when not using it I keep it on the inside of my liner and parka. It works well. I don’t drink out of the holes I pee in.

    RS/CTT Nov 16
    HEAT1 Aug18

    #53873
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    Some more good info posted.

    Joe brings up some good points above.

    Let’s start with lube for weapons. This could get you all fucked up if you go the wrong direction. The last thing you want is for it freeze shut and then have to piss on it to thaw it out like Soldiers had to do during the Korean War.

    I don’t care what you choose, but you had better test it rigorously before you can depend on it. Whatever your choice, do your research. I recommend, trust and use SLIP2000 and SLIP2000 EWL.

    If weapons are constantly exposed to cold, warm and then cold again optics may fog on the outside of the lens. You need to pay attention to this. If they fog on the inside, you bought crap.

    Do the gloves you use allow you to manipulate you weapon? Will your gloves fit into the trigger guard? Can you do a combat reload or a malfunction drill with your gloves on? Everything changes when you are wearing thicker gloves.

    How are you running you mags? Still using a chest rig? Does it fit over top of you cold weather gear? Can you grab your mags and do a reload with gloves on? We are talking about cold weather gloves. What about body armor? Under or over you cold weather gear?

    You can use either canteens or Nalgene bottles. Either one will freeze. Turn them upside down so it freezes at the bottom of it. Hydration bladders are a different animal. If the bladder is inside of you pack, depending on temps, that may be enough insulation to keep it from freezing. The drinking tube will freeze solid. One way to prevent this is to blow air back through the tube to clear it after you drink. I do this even in hot weather. I have had tubes freeze and it sucks.

    As Joe said above, in really cold temps, filters will freeze. You need an alternate way of treating water. Iodine tablets are good for this.

    @Socks – Gortex, no question about it.

    More tomorrow.

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #53877
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    German (Norwegian) Over-boots $29.99

    Sportsmans Guide.

    I just bought several pair. They haven’t arrived yet.

    Key Features
    German military issue
    Made in Norway for the KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte)
    Protects in cold, wet environments
    100% waterproof protection
    Fleece-lined for added warmth
    For use over regular boots
    Buy XL for size 10.5-12 regular boots

    https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/german-military-surplus-waterproof-overboots-used?a=2109020

    #53878
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    Cold Weather/expedition style Water Bottle 1.0 Liter size

    https://www.40below.com/products_detail.php?ProductID=18

    This is the trusted water bottle for extreme cold environments. Formerly know as the “Hunersdorf” bottle. Preferred (and even required by some guides) by experienced cold weather climbers and explorers. The lid has large ribs on the outside so it is easy to open with mittens or gloves the cold Because of the slightly flexible PE material, and design of the lid, they don’t have the tendency to crack in the cold as others do.

    These bottles also weigh less than many other expedition grade bottles. The bottles can handle warm liquids from melting snow to water.

    They fit great in the Forty Below® Water Bottle Boots™!

    Cold Weather/expedition style water bottle 1.0 Liter size:

    SIZE: 1 Liter (approx. 33 fl. oz)

    MEASUREMENTS: Diameter: 3 3/4″ (95mm) Height: 8 1/8″ (20.7cm)

    WEIGHT: 4.8 oz (135g)

    COLOR: transparent/clear

    COLD TEMP RANGE: -40F

    Made in Germany

    $10 each for 1 ltr.

    Water bottle

    #53879
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    I filled a Nalgene and Hunersdorf with hot faucet water and put them in a freezer overnight. They were filled up to the middle of the shoulder to allow for expansion after freezing. The Hunersdorf has a special feature at the top of the cap so that it can expand even when over filled. The Nalgene cap would break if over filled according to 40 Below.

    Both froze solid (no warming jackets were used).

    The Hundersdorf immediately opened while I had to wait 30 minutes before I could open the Nalgene. Both took a full day at room temperature to half thaw.

    40Below told me that it is better to not fill a container in freezing weather; to leave a bit of air at the top. They agreed that turning them upside down was a good idea IF you were sure they won’t leak. Don’t put them near your packed clothes if you do that in other words.

    I will next try the containers in their jackets; along with a thermos to see what happens. I went out an bought a freezer thermometer to check out the temps. 40Below told me that the average freezer was 5 degrees.

    #53889
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Since having a hot meal can’t be underestimated when living in the field particularly in cold weather.

    I recommend the following Thread Thermos Cooking as a excellent option.

    This can be a real lifesaver in the event of unexpected water entry or general hypothermia treatment.

    #53910
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    @skywalker, two interesting pieces of gear. I’ll check those out.

    Let’s talk about clothing. One of the best systems available is the GEN3 ECWCS. This came about after we went into Afghanistan. The Army realized that we needed better cold weather gear. The system was developed based on input from experienced hikers, climbers and mountain climbers. The system works using layers. No one piece tries to do everything, which was part of the problem with previous cold weather gear.

    I stopped using the silk weight base layer and went to Smartwool base layers. I am a huge fan of their stuff because it works. I know there are other companies making merino wool clothing now, but I will stick with Smartwool.

    ECWCS stuff is available online at numerous places at decent prices.

    A newer system is the PCU(Protective Clothing Uniform). Based off of the ECWCS, but it has more layers. You can find this stuff online also, but it is going to cost a lot more.

    I mentioned Smartwool above. I can’t say enough good things about their socks. It is all I have worn for years. And I do wear them year round, to include while I was in Afghanistan. Get the appropriate weight for your AO and temps. I usually wear the mid weight hikers year round.

    One of the biggest things you need to do is evaluate your AO. What are the temp swings that you can encounter. What is going to work for me is going to be different than what works for Joe. That again is going to be different for what @Socks is going to need.

    The next thing you are going to have to do is get your gear out in the weather and test it out. Not just go out for the day, but go out for 2, 3 or more days and actually live in it, but be careful. If you are new to this you need to take precautions. 50 degrees and rain doesn’t sound to bad. Until you have to live out in it. It can be deadly.

    @johnnymac
    @Socks

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #53912
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Not just go out for the day, but go out for 2, 3 or more days and actually live in it, but be careful.

    This can’t be stressed enough!

    If you are new to this you need to take precautions.

    When training/proofing your skills/gear in extreme environments always have an escape option.

    You must know the difference between discomfort and damage, suffering through discomfort can build character and endurance while testing limits, while suffering damage while training is ignorance with no benefit.

    #53919
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    Thanks @firstsergeant

    I also like smartwool socks. I hear lots of good things about darn tough socks as well, but never tried them. For base layers, I find it to be a case by case basis, where every different piece of clothing will perform differently. I’ll pick up varying base layers at discount places like TJ Maxx, Ross, etc and after spending some time in each article of clothing, I can assess where it fits in. It allows me to be comfortable throughout the late fall-winter-spring fluctuations. Having the confidence and know-how with layering is key, and only comes with, as you say, time outdoors.

    #53928
    Profile photo of wheelsee
    wheelsee
    Participant

    You must know the difference between discomfort and damage, suffering through discomfort can build character and endurance while testing limits, while suffering damage while training is ignorance with no benefit.

    I grew up with “no pain, no gain”. Having worked in orthopedics for 14 years, I can tell you ALL of the orthopedic specialists I have had contact with will tell you “utter BS” (they will use the whole word). I’ve had multiple orthopods comment that “bad coaching provides at least 10% of our business” (those who work in sports medicine, can provide up to 50%), though this is changing with the use of athletic trainers.

    Pain is the body’s way of saying STOP!! you’re tearing something.
    Discomfort, on the other hand, is the body’s way of saying Hmm, haven’t done that in awhile…..

    LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!

    Max has said it multiple times re heavy rucking – you don’t really want to do it. The VAST majority of soldiers that I see in ortho clinic are the result of carrying loads in excess of 75#. Granted they did it, and for awhile. But EVERYONE I see who did, have torn meniscus (no repair/cure, only trimming out the torn part, which speeds the arthritis process – most will need knee replacements in 5-10 years). Train smart, treatment options down the road may not be what you think they are…….

    Which is heavier - a soldier's pack or a slave's chains? Napoleon

    Strength, Honor. Maximus (Gladiator)

    If you tolerate evil, you yourself are evil.
    Col Hugo Martinez, Commander Search Bloc

    William, in The Republic - CRS/CTT 2017, HEAT 2/CQB/FonF 2018, DCH 2018

    #53958
    Profile photo of First Sergeant
    First Sergeant
    Moderator

    You must know the difference between discomfort and damage, suffering through discomfort can build character and endurance while testing limits, while suffering damage while training is ignorance with no benefit.

    I grew up with “no pain, no gain”. Having worked in orthopedics for 14 years, I can tell you ALL of the orthopedic specialists I have had contact with will tell you “utter BS” (they will use the whole word). I’ve had multiple orthopods comment that “bad coaching provides at least 10% of our business” (those who work in sports medicine, can provide up to 50%), though this is changing with the use of athletic trainers.

    Pain is the body’s way of saying STOP!! you’re tearing something.
    Discomfort, on the other hand, is the body’s way of saying Hmm, haven’t done that in awhile…..

    LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!

    Max has said it multiple times re heavy rucking – you don’t really want to do it. The VAST majority of soldiers that I see in ortho clinic are the result of carrying loads in excess of 75#. Granted they did it, and for awhile. But EVERYONE I see who did, have torn meniscus (no repair/cure, only trimming out the torn part, which speeds the arthritis process – most will need knee replacements in 5-10 years). Train smart, treatment options down the road may not be what you think they are…….

    I am now paying for years of carrying 75#-100# plus rucks.

    Sometimes though, you don’t have choice.

    Is anybody getting anything out of these post?

    Want me to continue with the winter stuff?

    FILO
    Signal out, can you identify.
    Je ne regrette rien...
    Klagt Nicht, Kämpft

    #53962
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    yes please.

    Most of us have experienced enough fair weather training to have a good idea of what is needed. Few have gone through tough winter training.

    The German “Made in Norway” overboots came in today. Excellent quality, new condition. I wore them over tennis shoes tonight and will try regular boots tomorrow. They are not made for warmth, your boots will provide that. These just keep the snow out of your boots and provide a bit of insulation, along with a big gaiter and water proofing.

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