VAERNES AIR STATION, Norway (Mar 1, 2005) -- Even in the below-freezing temperatures of Norway, the 25th Marine Regiment is taking aim at one of the most casualty-producing enemies the Marine Corps has faced - vehicle accidents.
Learning the fundamentals of driving on snow in ice is difficult to do, especially if you are a Marine stationed in the southern portion of the United States where sunshine is plentiful. For many Marines participating in exercise Battle Griffin 2005, they had to wait upon their arrival in Norway to participate in the proper training program to learn how to drive on ice and snow.
"During (the exercise), the Marines are going to be driving on ordinary public roads and the tires on the vehicles they drive aren't made for cold weather driving," said cold-weather driver safety course instructor, Roar Mattison. "The roads here are covered in ice and snow and are very slippery, so the Marines have to learn how to have control of their vehicle while driving."
The course is run on a snow and ice covered racetrack outside the town of Stjordal.
Marines try to navigate through the course while maintaining positive control of their vehicle and, like in real-world situations, avoid collisions.
"It's good training," said Cpl. Luis A. Echeverria, vehicle operator, Headquarters Co., 25th Marines. "Back in Camp Pendleton, we train for all sorts of climates, but we never trained for snow and ice. The course lets you experience what the weather in Norway is really like and prepares you for what's ahead."
While all-around training is a part of the course's curriculum, the instructors focus on several key points.
"We're teaching them to slow down and to not turn so hard on the wheel," said Mattison.
"A lot of these guys get scared once they start sliding. We're helping them get more confident behind the wheel and hopefully, reducing the chance of them getting hurt."