MAGTF Marines make ops. center out of snow
MAGTF 25 Marines secure guiding columns to hold up cold weather camouflage netting. The Marines are in Norway as part of exercise Battle Griffin 2005. (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz)
1 photo: MAGTF 25 Marines secure guiding columns to hold up cold weather camouflage netting. The Marines are in Norway as part of exercise Battle Griffin 2005. (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz)
Photo 1 of 1: MAGTF 25 Marines secure guiding columns to hold up cold weather camouflage netting. The Marines are in Norway as part of exercise Battle Griffin 2005. (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz) Download full-resolution version

BEITSTAD, Norway - On setting sight upon a broad hill covered with more than a foot of soft snow, building a structure people work in, let alone live in, would be at the back of most people's minds. But for a certain group of reserve Marines, it's a challenge waiting to be conquered.

A collection of Marines from different sections within Headquarters Co., 25th Marine Regiment, part of Marine Air Ground Task Force 25, built an entire combat operations center on a hill overlooking the town of Beitstad as part of exercise Battle Griffin 2005.

The Worcester, Mass.-based unit faced a range of obstacles that made the going hard. Continuous snow flurries and below-freezing temperatures hampered the mission from the start.

"Setting up on rough terrain like this makes it a lot more difficult to accomplish our mission," said Gunnery Sgt. Mitchell L. Smith, assistant S-3 operations chief. "What would take two or three hours will now probably take about four or five, but I'm confident our guys can get it done quickly."

For the first part of their task, the Marines needed to erect three large tents and cover them with cold weather camouflage netting.

"As a unit, we've only practiced setting up (the tents) a couple of times, and those were in ideal conditions," said Smith. "This kind of thing is a ‘live and learn' lesson. The entire MAGTF is depending on us to finish this COC."

The Marines rallied together and finished building the shelters and netting in 3-½ hours. "The COC commands the 25th Marines' ‘battleground' for Battle Griffin," said 1st Sgt Christopher M. Colby, HQ Co. first sergeant. "Without it, we might as well be scrubbing decks back in Worcester. These Marines did a great job under difficult circumstances."

Battle Griffin is a Norwegian invitational exercise that allows the Marines Corps to test the interoperability of its tactics and systems with those of potential coalition partner nations.

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