Operation In Cold Weather CSC 1987 SUBJECT AREA Operations Author Major Knut Karlsen, USMC Summary 1. The paper will, through an overview over problems in cold weather operations and special precautions, answer the question if there is a need to earmark units. The area picked for cold weather operations is Norway and the prestocking of equipment for one MAB size unit is completed. 2. History has shown through the failure of Napoleon in Russia in 1812, the suffering of the Russians in the Russian-Finnish War in 1939-40 and the Germans in 1941- 1942, that forces which fight in cold weather and are neither trained nor equipped for such operations, will lose against the winter. 3. Cold weather has a great impact on the individual and the unit. Every operation takes 2-4 times longer and maintenance takes longer and requires more. 4. The threat the USMC will face in Norway, besides the weather, is the Soviet Union. Her forces are trained and equipped for cold weather operations. But the USMC will not fight alone. Together with forces from Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Norway, which are all trained and equipped for cold weather operations, it is possible to fight and win. 5. In order to do so it is necessary to train under winter conditions and Norwegian terrain (reverse slope). 6. The equipment must also be adequate, even if each nation will differ in choice. Much attention should be paid to logistics in regard to nutrition, heating and cover, and the impact on personnel. A very special attention must be paid to medical care. 7. Since the USMC has a world wide commitment, I have concluded that the best solution to pick and prepare units for cold weather operations is not to earmark but to increase training and the number of units which do cold weather training. This is based on two assumptions: A standing MAB headquarters is responsible for all planning and the necessary funds are provided. OPERATIONS IN COLD WEATHER "A Need for Earmarked Units" (United States Marine Corps) Introduction Analysis 1. The purpose of this study is: a. To give an overview of the problems which are specific for cold weather operations. b. To describe possible countermeasures to prepare or improve a unit's ability to fight in cold weather. c. To discuss if there is a need to earmark units for cold weather operations. Assumptions and Limitations 2. a. The area picked for cold weather operations is NATO's northern flank - Norway. b. The prestocking of United States Marine Corps equipment in Norway is completed according to the bilateral treaty. c. The units are restricted to "known units" which will participate in the defense of Norway. d. The study is written from a viewpoint of a Norwegian officer. Factors 3. The following factors will be discussed: a. History. b. What is cold weather? c. The threat. d. Own forces. e. Training and readiness. f. Tactics. g. Equipment. h. Logistics. i. Leadership. j. Solutions. k. Conclusions and recommendations. History 4. a. History has shown that units which have the ability to survive in cold weather also have a dual effect. They have inflicted great losses upon their enemy, an enemy which lacked such ability. b. History also shows that units which were neither equipped nor prepared for operations in cold weather had severe losses. In Norway in 1718,1 General Armfeldt lost more than 3000 Swedish soldiers in the Tydal mountains. In 1939-40 Finnish-Russian war,2 the Finnish, though outnumbered, destroyed two Russian divisions (44th and 163rd) and killed several thousand (163rd had more than 5000 killed). In the Aleutians in 1943,3 the American 7th Infantry Divisions had, by 30 May, lost 3829 for which the weather counted for 56%. Also the Napoleon campaign in Russia in 1812 and the Germans in order to fight. What is cold weater/Environment/Terrain 5. a. Briefly, cold weather consists of the following environmental conditions: Darkness, frozen ground without snow and severe cold to thaw with lots of snow and rain, wind and tranquilty, and with a strong impact on the human mind. b. Norway lies in the subartic/artic zone from Troendelag in the south, while the rest of Norway lies in the tempered zone. This figure illustrates the highest and lowest average temperature in November/February in three different places in Norway.4 Click here to view image The weather, especially the temperature, varies a lot in northern Norway. The wind can at some places reach storm/hurricane force and the wind chill factor can be down between -50oC to -60oC. This figure illustrates frost, snow and the average snow depth.4 Click here to view image c. The darkness and the midnight sun are illustrated here: Click here to view image d. The challenge5 in cold weather operations is to maintain the readiness of the unit. This requires equipment and clothing, but above all "training" and the will to survive. This can only be taught "outside". My rule is: One hour in classroom is 100 hours outside in the cold and snow. The fear of winter increases in cold weather. The soldier will fear snow, cold, wind, darkness, and the fear of frostbite. All these can be seen in the individual being apathetic, lack of interest in himself and his unit, unwillingness to carry out orders or simply tries to leave his unit. The only way to overcome the fear is training; training under winter conditions. But winter also has advantages. The snow offers protection against the cold and effect of enemy fire, increased mobility for tracked vehicles on marshy ground. But winter also has disadvantages. The snow can reduce mobility and dispersal, the temperature and wind can change rapidly and lead to extreme conditions, snow makes navigation more difficult, the frozen ground and lakes may create new avenues of approach, the frozen ground makes it much more difficult to make fortifications, maintenance of the individual, equipment, vehicles and weapons requires the utmost. But with realistic and careful training, every individual and unit can make winter an ally, e. The Norwegian terrain is mountainous and the country is divided into valleys, separated from each other by mountains up to 3000 - 5000 feet. Travel is mostly limited to the roads or the fjords, because to traverse the hillsides is mostly very difficult and requires time. Helicopter transportation is therefore very suitable and flexible, but requires warning and protection against enemy attack and warning against sudden changes in the weather. Operations in large formations are therefore difficult, and most units will therefore need to deploy in brigades or lower levels. The Threat 6. a. Why is Norway threatened? Kola penensula is the simple answer. Kola is the largest naval complex in the world, and the homeport of the major Soviet nuclear second strike capability. The Kola peninsula (or the close vicinity) is also the homeport of the northern fleet, and together with the Baltic fleet, these two fleets are the main threat to the sea lines of communication across the Atlantic. The need for the Soviet Union to give the fleet aircover and to prevent NATO strike fleet to enter the North and the Norwegian Sea is clearly shown in her exercise pattern since the 1960's.6 The main defense line is the GIUK gap. The only way the Soviet Union can extend in aircover or disperse the fleet is to seize Norway or parts of Norway. b. For northern Norway that means Leningrad Military District (LMD) with the 6th Army.7 The 6th Army has two standing motorized rifle divisions (Cat A), combat support an combat service support units co-located. In addition, two-three mobilization divisions. Air support is obtained from at least one helicopter attack regiment and an airarmy from the district. c. At Kola there are 16 operational airfields8 with hardened facilities and prestocked equipment, and with a capability to operate more than 350 airplanes. In Pskov, south of Leningrad, one airborne division (Cat A) is located. d. At sea, an attack can be supported by two naval brigades, one standing and one mobilized, and one Spetsnaz brigade. e. From LMD, at least one Spetsnaz brigade can be attached to 6th Army. f. All these units are equipment and trained in cold weather operations. The equipment is not as modern and good as "NATO equipment", but good enough from the russian soldier. To conclude, I think we should realize that we will meet a highly trained and equipped enemy for cold weather operations. It should also be added that his tactics have improved due to lessons learned in Afghanistan. Own Forces 7. a. Norway,9 of course, plays a major role in the defense of northern Norway. Several brigades out of thirteen are committed to the defense of northern Norway, in addition, local forces and Home Guard units. Most of the Navy and Airforce are also committed to northern Norway. All Norwegian forces are equipped and trained in cold weather operations. b. But as a NATO member, Norway is not left alone. Four other NATO countries, besides those participating in AMF, play a part in the defense of Norway. c. Great Britain10 has played and is still playing a part in the defense of Norway. Since the early 1960's, the Royal Marines have trained in Norway every year and have become as good as the Norwegians (or better) in cold weather operation. Together with units from the Netherlands Marines, Great Britain has earmarked one commando brigade trained and equipped for cold weather operations. Every year, from January to March, the brigade trains in Norway. The equipment is designed for winter operations (BV 202/206, skies, snowshoes, clothing, heaters and tent). Some of the equipment is prestocked in Norway, but most of it is shipped to Norway every year. d. The Canadians11 have committed one brigade and one air element to Norway (CAST brigade - Canadian Air and Sea Transported Brigade). The brigade and its air element are earmarked for Norway. The brigade is specialized and equipped for cold weather operations. The brigade trains in cold weather several months every year in Canada, and participates as a brigade or sends a battalion size unit to Norway every year. Some of the equipment is prestocked in Norway. e. The United States12 has a bilateral treaty with Norway to participate in the defense of Norway with a brigade size unit from the United States Marine Corps.13 This unit will have some of its equipment and supplies prestocked in Norway (finished in 1989). The size of the unit is determined, but no unit has been earmarked. A standing headquarters (4th MAB) is responsible for all planning for Norway. Participating units in exercises in Norway come all from FMF Atlantic. FMF Atlantic also sends units to the Mediterranean and Okinawa (MAU) on a permanent basis and also units to other parts in Europe, the Middle East, Central America/Carribbean Ocean. FMF Atlantic is also responsible for planning of a MPS configurate MAB (6th MAB). All these deployments mean the unit (MAB) which is going to Norway is task-organized prior to the deployment from available ready forces and sent to winter training at training bases in CONUS for 4-6 weeks before they leave for Norway. Training and Readiness14 8. a. The training for operations in cold weather must apply for everyone from general to private, for infantry and combat service support. The training should aim at why, what, how to dress, eat, how to stay warm and how to avoid frostbite/snow blindness, and how to tackle the darkness and the cold and moisture. The training should be carried out under the most realistic conditions - training should be done in Norway. The individual training, including ski and basic winter training, should last for 4-6 weeks, and should be terminated with a survival exercise in small tents for 6-8 days. b. The second part of the training, small unit training (team/section/platoon), is very important in order to get "the job done". The training should aim at leadership, survival and the execution of small unit tactics. Live firing, movement in the snow, ambush, patrolling and fortification should be emphasized. The training should apply to all units, not only infantry units. This training should last 2-4 weeks, based on previous experience, and in which 4 days every week should be in tents. c. The third part of the training should include exercises at company/battalion and brigade level. Available time and money will decide the length of the training. The training, however, should include tactical movement with helicopter (day/night) together with cross country movement, and the use and implementation of tactical air support and naval gunfire. Every commander will soon realize that everything in winter demands detailed control and the execution will take 2-4 times longer. d. Readiness is a combination of cold winter training, equipment usable in cold weather, and physical and psychological fitness. Expect for the training, equipment can be bought and stored everywhere, physical and psychological fitness can be trained and taught almost everywhere. But in order to be ready for combat in cold weather, the training for cold weather must be done in cold weather with cold weather equipment. Tactics15 9. a. Without attacking the enemy, you will lose. This is the essential tactics in cold weather operations. The Norwegian terrain and climate must be utilized to the utmost. That means the reverse slope tactics, defensive positions must be defended at the flanks and the rear, and an attacking enemy must be destroyed at all times with spoiling attacks. This will force the enemy out from his vehicles and into the cold and snow. b. In a defensive position, some one-third to one- half of the force (combat power) should be in the offense (move). This tactics requires excellent winter survival techniques and equipment, but is the way to exhaust an enemy, which is mechanized and operates as an air-ground task force. c. Units, which are to operate in Norway, must immediately adopt that tactic when they deploy to Norway. Leadership 10. a. Leadership in cold weather is often called "small units leadership". I agree, but it is important to recognized that without a knowledgeable and experienced cold weather leader "at the top" you could probably beat the enemy but not the cold, and as a consequence, you will lose. Leadership in cold weather starts with the training.16 A leader must know himself, the cold weather, and the impact on himself and his unit. More than ever, the leader in cold weather must be willing to take command and action, and to exercise controls to the smallest detail.17 He must possess the morale, courage to correct mistakes, and a real will and care for his men. Simply: Men, weapons, equipment and the leader himself are the succession to exercise leadership. b. Many will say, the leader has to be an experienced skier. This is not so. He must have the ability to "get the unit with him", to create possibilities, to take precautions beforehand to keep the men warm and the equipment ready. This can only be done through training in cold weather. In the training, the leaders must be shown confidence, encouragement, and responsibility. Cold winter training is control of details, but the control of details must be kept at the right level. Let the battalion commander control his company commanders and not the squad leader. That is the platoon commander's job and responsibility, success and failure. Equipment18 11. a. Among the units which are earmarked (committed) for Norway, there will be a mixture of specialized equipment. Government (industrial) policy in each country requires that most of the equipment should be produced and purchased in the country, or traded in exchange for "whatever" equipment. b. An examination of Norwegian,19 English, and Canadian equipment shows that cold weather operations requires special equipment for the individual unit. Such equipment could be (examples) boots, bootcovers, underwear, gloves, hoods, sleeping bags, tents (sleeping and maintenance), snow moving, ice breaking, camouflage nets, skis, and over snow vehicles (BV 202/206). These items and many mire must be designed both for wet and dry cold. Some of the equipment also demands an adjustment of tactics and training. To train with the equipment every year is a must. c. I think it is realistic to see different designs of equipment among the participating nations in the defense of Norway due to national policy and the availability of money. But if units are committed to operate in cold weather, the above mentioned are examples of "a must" not wanted. Along with the "must" is the training and use of the equipment. d. To conclude the discussion on equipment, I think it is right to say: "If you don't possess, or if it is not provided by the host nation support, it will very soon hamper your effort to win the first battle - survival." Equipment in cold weather is a part of the battle. Logistics18 12. a. To elaborate on all logistics in cold weather operations is of course impossible. Let me focus on some major factors. b. Nutrition.20 An individual will, during a winter operation, need at east 7000 calories and approximately 10 liters of water to operate, keep warm, and avoid dehydration. This is far more than normal rations. At least two meals should also be served warm to prevent the body from using calories for heating food. Special attention should therefore be paid to cooking, feeding and to drinking water. c. To stay warm is essential. In order to do that a soldier must have clean socks, clothes and good boots and a good personal hygiene. Good heated facilities are essential, and a leader must also realize that this will require more time than normal (2-3 times longer). d. POL will exceed normal combat rations compared with other seasons. The amount of POL will increase, and special POL is required for cold weather. e. Cold weather21 will also require more ammunition due to the reduced effect caused by the snow/ice. To give exact figures is impossible, but my personal experience with explosives indicated several more times. f. Batteries for radios, vehicles, and lights are vulnerable, and the amount will greatly exceed normal use. Special attention must also be taken in severe cold, otherwise radios will not work and vehicles will not start. g. To fight over "periods of time" will have a great impact on the individual. The cold weather will affect all personnel (infantry, CS, CSS and aviation) and I think that it would be wise to reduce a normal combat rate at 100 to 50. In cold weather you have to change sentries more often (in very cold weather every 10 minutes - 1 hour), vehicles have to be started regularly, heaters have to be looked after, maintenance of airplaned/helicopters will take 2-3 more times. All these together will result in tired and exhausted personnel after 2-3 days, and relief of units. Food, sleep and heat will make them recover in 1-2 days. h. Another great impact on personnel and morale is medical treatment.22 Without emergency treatment and heat the injured or wounded will "freeze to death" (shock) after a few minutes. This also requires more personnel for medical care and supervision. Logistics in cold weather operations will require more from the commanding officer and the leaders than ever before. If this is neglected, an experienced and trained unit could turn into "a medical case" in a few days. Solutions 13. a. I see three possible solutions. (1) The USMC earmark one MAB for Norway. (2) The USMC intensify and extend the cold weather training from 4-6 weeks to 8-12 weeks and increase the number of units which will train. (3) The USMC keep the system of today. Common for all solutions is that one MAB headquarters is responsible for all planning for Norway. b. To earmark a MAB for Norway will greatly benefit Norway and the ability for that unit to survive in cold weather. All personnel will be trained annually in cold weather, they will be familiar with the environment and terrain, be familiar with the special equipment, possible adjustments in training and tactics could be made easily. All this will create a strong feeling of success and will eliminate the natural fear for cold weather. To earmark will break tradition in the USMC. The USMC has world-wide commitments, and to earmark will hamper the flexibility of training and interchange of personnel. To earmark one MAB for cold weather could decrease interest in other units for cold weather training. And it must be remembered that there are more areas in the world which require winter-trained and equipped units (Korea and the Aleutians). In the long run earmarking could lead to an army assignment which could be in conflict with the army interests in central Europe. c. My opinion is that if you can survive and fight in cold weather, you could fight in most places in the world (except desert and jungle). Many of the commitments held by the USMC should justify that the USMC extend their cold weather training both in length and in number of units. This will create more flexibility, more marines will be prepared to fight in the cold, and you will obtain the same advantages as to earmark. This will probably require more equipment, more fundings for training, which could create problems or delays in other areas. d. To keep up the systems of today with task organization prior to training and deployment will meet USMC policy. It is flexible and will not hamper any career to an officer or enlisted. But it should be realized that many marines will have little or no cold winter training in case of rapid deployment, with little or no time for training. A lot of the special equipment and the skill to use it will be unfamiliar. This can lead to consequences both for the individual and the unit as history has shown. e. In comparison of the solutions, three main factors are essential: Training for cold weather, the use of special winter equipment, and flexibility. An earmarked unit will meet the first two main factors, but is dependent on one assumption - a possibility for an increase of funding for training and more winter equipment. To keep up the system of today will meet flexibility, but would be uncertain in regard to winter training and the use of winter equipment. Conclusions and Recommendations 14 a. The best solution is to intensify and extend cold winter training both in time and in number of units (No 2). Decisive factors have been training and flexibility. The second best solution is what the USMC has today. The least preferred solution is to earmark a unit, because it will break with flexibility and could lead to a lack of cold winter training in other units. b. The United States Marines Corps should therefore: (1) Assign a headquarters for planning purposes (MAB). (2) Intensify and extend cold weather training both in time and in number of units. (3) Allocate necessary funds to sustain the increased efforts. (4) Increase the periods of training in Norway. FOOTNOTES 1. Thoughts about winter operations. Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Poulsson NMT 5/67. 2. Tactics readings at Norwegian Military Academy. The fighting at Suomussalmi and Raate. 3. The Aleutian Campaign. Major A. I. Waldrum CSC 1976-77. 4. Winter conditions. Shooting and Warfare School of the Infantry in Norway (MS 6-120-1 November 1984). 5. a.) Background readings picked from Winterservice MS6-8 RNOA. 6. The Threat and Defense. Lecture by Secretary of Defense in Oslo, 7 January 1985. 7. Soviet front level threat to northern Norway. John Berg, January Defense Weekly, 2 February 1985. 8. Royal Norwegian Armed Forces Journal, Edition 25/26 1986, Edition 1/87 and Edition 3/87. 9. The Strategic Position and Defense Challenges of Norway, CHOD Norway, 21 January 1986; and Main Guidelines and the Defense Establishment During the period 1984-1988; and "The Study of the Norwegian Defense," 1985, unclassified version. 10. Interview with Major J. Gordon, RM, CSC 1986-87. 11. Interview with Major R. Dick, Canada CSC 1986-87. 12. Interview with Lieutenant Colonel J. Adinolfi, US, CSC 1987. 13. Facts Royal Ministry of Defense, December 1987, No. 0883. 14. Personal Experiences. See also note 5. 15. Norwegian Infantry Battalion, FR 6-1 series. 16. Leadership in the Cold. Colonel J.A. Poulsson. See also note 5. 17. Personal Experience. 18. See note 5. 19. Use and Maintenance of equipment during winter. RNOA/SVI. MS 6-120-7 December 1984. 20. RNOA/SVI MS 6-120-3. December 1984. Nutrition. 21. RNOA/SVI MS 6-120-8. Fortifications in winter. 22. a.) See note 5. b.) Cold Weather Injuries. Brigadier General I. G. Naerup, RNOA. c.) Cold Weather Casualties and Treatment. Rear Admiral W. I. Mills, Jr. d.) Medical/Safety Aspects of Preparing Marines for Cold Weather Operations. Captain R. O. Chaney, USN. 23. Background readings also include: a.) OH8-5 Cold Weather Operations Handbook. b.) Conference on Cold Weather Combat Operations. USMC/Norway, March 1982.
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