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The soldiers of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Vermont Army National Guard have set up their bivouac location within the Arctic Circle, March 3 in 2014, as part of Guerrier Nordique extremely cold-weather exercises in Canada. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez) (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLCHESTER, Vt. – Vermont Army National Guard Soldiers went out into the Canadian wilderness to take part in “Guerrier Nordique” two weeks of extreme cold-weather workout.

Maj. Matthew Heffner and his small group consisting of Green Mountain Boys trained 80 miles to the north to Havre-Saint Pierre, a small village located in Quebec Province. This is about 600 miles north from Burlington, Vermont, and more than 700 miles from Colchester.

In 2012 in 2012, the Vermont National Guard began a small-scale exchange of units with Canadian specialists for cold weather. Heffner stated that he has been attending the training since.

“We are now partnering together with 35 Canadian Brigade Group, an elite reserve group that specializes in survival of extreme cold temperatures. We worked this time together with Brigade Group Arctic Response Company,” said Heffner, who is the chief of action of the 86th Troop Command in the VTARNG.

The scenario of 2022 was a simulation of an intense winter storm that disrupted the power supply to villages and fresh water sources. Heffner stated that Canadian or U.S. military personnel assisted civil authorities.

“We attended to help in a similar way as what we could perform as part of our National Guard in the U.S.,” said Heffner. “During this training we performed a great deal of training in search and rescue. It is beneficial from training in the far north with Canadian forces. Their winters are much more harsh.”

The first time an Solider goes to Canadian Arctic training, Heffner declared, “they are not good at it. There is no one who is at first. It is necessary to repeat the process to improve your skills and attain an understanding of the basics of.”

Because of the extreme weather, Heffner said few people are keen to attend more than one workout.

“You invite participants to these cold-weather exercises, and they’ll not be able to go back again because it’s brutal. To be able to perform a tactical task in these conditions you need to feel comfortable in the space that you’re working in.”

Heffner discussed the challenges dealing with military activities in the Arctic climate.

“In the minus 35-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures you’re fighting to survive, where every aspect is a battle, drinking water, cooking food, and trying to keep warm, and to not suffer frostbite.”

The extreme cold doesn’t just harm people, but the lubrication of weapons is a problem, and batteries are drained faster , and there may have issues with optics.

The six-day the exercise participants slept in tents on three locations, and were transported via snowmobile. This was an important area where the Vermont Guardsmen could use to assist in the field.

Heffner explained that the Canadians employed toboggan-type sleds that were pulled by snowmobiles to transport cargo and Vermont Guardsmen assisted in securing items.

“Because that we’re part of Mountain Warfare School, we’re very adept at knotting knots. When you’re running around rough terrain, it is essential to perform a great job of securing your equipment. If you’re only tying the square knot, this will not always go in a good way when equipment goes flying. We taught an impromptu knot class that really assisted the participants.”

In exchange, Heffner said the Canadians presented to him how they heat meals and meals that can be eaten in frigid temperatures.

“During our exercise we utilized Canadian MREs. They make them differently,” Heffner said. “We generally make use of cold weather rations that are dehydrated and require plenty of water to make.”

The Canadian soldiers utilize a pressure cooker when in the field. They only add a bit of water, a couple of handfuls of snow, and the MRE The pressure cooker can be highly efficient since it requires less water.

Heffner believes that there is no better Arctic training experience.

“A majority of Canadians have more experience in the harsh winter conditions than we do, and it’s an excellent chance to collaborate together,” He said.

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