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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Staff Sgt. Michael Euler, mountain warfare instructor, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, dismounts a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter alongside a team of instructors at approximately 11,000 feet above sea level to begin a 6-kilometer long-range movement to Landing zone Red Tail as part of the Red Hat Refresher Course, May 5, 2014. The insertion began the hike which included several checkpoints that had to be located and signaled from the route.

Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Mountain warfare instructors hone their skills

5 May 2014 | Cpl. Charles Santamaria Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

A team of Marines dismount from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter into a landing zone that sits at approximately 11,000 feet above sea level. The team was faced with high gusts of wind, rocky terrain, and the strain higher altitudes can have on the body as they progressed down the mountainside. The group overcame the natural obstacles and pushed through to each checkpoint. Though trekking two kilometers to their first checkpoint, the team still had a long day ahead of them.

Mountain warfare instructors participated in a six-kilometer movement to Landing Zone Red Tail, located in the training area of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport Calif. training area as part of a ‘Red Hat’ refresher course, May 5, 2014. The event incorporated timed day and night movements through the terrain, mountain communication at designated checkpoints, and a survival class.

The course began April 28 and covered multiple cadres for Marines to build further upon the groups’ skill sets. The classes given included survival training, an animal packer refresher, mountain medicine, day and night long range movements, tracking, mountain communication, and other condensed courses that gave a general understanding of each skill.

“This iteration was slightly different in that the goal was to not only refresh the instructors’ basic skills, but to also build upon those with specific days for each section to teach their respective course,” said Capt. Dane Sagerholm, officer in charge, Mountain Warfare Training Group, MCMWTC. “When instructors have a broader range of skills, it adds to their credibility when units of different countries and sizes come to train here.”

Identified by their unique red beanies, the mountain warfare instructors, known aboard the training center as ‘Red Hats,’ lead several courses aboard the base and regularly refine their skills through seasonal classes which refresh their knowledge on various subjects.

“As instructors, any technique or piece of knowledge you can add to your kit bag will help when it comes time to lead or advise a unit,” Sagerholm said. “We’re always students, constantly refining and learning skills.”

As the seasons change, the mountain warfare instructors strive to maintain their knowledge of their environment and skills to better provide training for units or service members.

“These courses encompass the techniques instructors will use and teach during the season they are in,” said Gunnery Sgt. Geraldo Uribe, staff non-commissioned officer in charge, Mountain Warfare Training Group, MCMWTC. “We sharpen our skills for the winter and summer mountain exercises and strive to give insight on the different cadres and sections in the training group on base.”

Instructors provide guidance, teaching points, knowledge and experience to anyone who participates in the courses offered at MCMWTC. The skills they pass on create force multipliers throughout different units, effectively making the Marine Corps an even more refined force of readiness.

“This plays a big role in the Marine Corps,” Uribe said. “It builds a Marine’s physical and mental strength and it creates Marines who are ready and prepared to fight in yet another form of terrain.”


Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms