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Staff Sgt. Steven L. Ramga, an instructor with the Unit Training Group aboard Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., begins to rappel down a cliff May 29 during the instructors’ annual, seasonal training.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Red hats do what they do best

5 Jun 2009 | Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Instructors with the Unit Training Group at Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., completed their annual, summer “red hat” refresher training May 25 through 29, which included rock climbing and rope techniques.

The training is designed to keep UTG instructors focused and knowledgeable about their jobs while refreshing the skill sets required of a UTG instructor during the summer’s courses offered at MWTC.

The red hat refresher covers many critical aspects, including technical mountaineering training, safety procedures, instructional techniques and course administration.

“The training keeps them up to speed on what they need to know for their individual job responsibilities,” said David Sartoni, a master trainer and former instructor at MWTC from Florence, Italy.  Sartoni said the 5-day training cycle gives experienced instructors a quick and comprehensive review, helping them to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We try to set this training between the summer and winter seasons because the Marines need to implement vastly different skills depending on the season. What we’re doing during this class is helping them prepare for the methods and procedures they will need for this time of year.”  Sartoni also said the training is critical to MWTC’s mission. 

The refresher training is varied and covers a multitude of subjects far beyond traditional platform or classroom instruction.  Improving the instructors overall capability equips them to effectively deal with the challenging situations encountered at MWTC.

For example, a MWTC instructor may be required to stop in the middle of a period of rock climbing instruction in order to rescue and evacuate a student or another instructor who has been injured or become trapped.  The “red hat” refresher course helps to prepare MWTC instructors to deal with these difficult circumstances in which they often find themselves. 

“The training reinforces previously learned technical skills while improving situational awareness and problem solving abilities, providing a well trained professional instructor there to properly deal with the inevitable problems,” Sartoni explained.

Because of their knowledge of the complex terrain and the training needed to overcome it, the Marines appreciated the refresher training.

“We don’t use all the stuff we’re learning everyday, but it is helpful when we eventually do need it,” said Sgt. Raymond Carnwright, an instructor with UTG and a native of Bassett, Va. “We keep all our skills up to par doing this. You never know when you’ll need all the techniques they’re teaching here.  It’s a good thing to know and it’ll be invaluable when we have to use it.”

With their training completed, the UTG instructors will be prepared for units coming to MWTC this summer, and will then turn their attention to winter training.


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