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A Marine with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, provides security as his squad conducts casualty evacuation drills during Mountain Exercise 1-16 at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 15, 2016. Marines across II Marine Expeditionary Force and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were taking part in the training in preparation for Exercise Cold Response 16 in Norway this March. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dalton A. Precht/released)

Photo by Cpl. Dalton Precht

Tackling the Mountain: Marines across II MEF brace themselves for Cold Response 16

3 Feb 2016 | Cpl. Dalton A. Precht 2nd Marine Division

Marines and sailors from across the II Marine Expeditionary Force and the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade prepared themselves for Exercise Cold Response in Norway at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 11-21.

Exercise Cold Response is a multinational NATO exercise that will include 12 countries and more than 15,000 personnel joining together to enhance interoperability in preparation for potential crises in colder climates.

Since the 1980s, The Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., has taught service members the critical survival skills needed for operations in cold weather environments.

“They start from the basics from how to wear snow shoes to how to survive an avalanche and survive in the cold,” said Master Sgt. Remi Rodriguez, the operations chief with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion. “The Most difficult portion of it was the cold. When we left Camp Lejeune it was 60 degrees, and when we arrived here it was negative 2 degrees.”

While in Norway the Marines and sailors will face bitter weather conditions, but with the skills learned at the Mountain Warfare Center, they will be better prepared to take on the cold.

“The value for the Marines … is the experience this training brings to them,” said Rodriguez. “I want them to take away from this that every Marine here is a leader and that they couldn’t survive in this environment without one another.”

For some of the Marines, it was their first time seeing snow and experiencing this type of environment.

“You truly learn to bond with the squad that you’re with being in this environment,” said Cpl. Cody Stoffel, a squad leader with the unit. “You really get to know [the squad] and know how they will react to the environment and the different physical, emotional and mental challenges of this training.”

Stoffel said being able to cross train with units that live in this environment 24/7 is what he looks forward to the most during Cold Response.

While taking part in exercise Cold Response, Stoffel and his Marines will be training with personnel from multiple NATO nations.

“When we actually get out there and get to cross train with those militaries, it’s going to be a great experience for the Marine Corps,” said Stoffel.

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