BURWASH, Ontario, Canada -- Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, joined the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, Wentworth Regiment, Canadian Armed Forces, for exercise Riley Xanten II in Burwash, Ontario, Feb 3-5, 2017.
The exercise is named after a World War II battle in which The Canadian Armed Forces used their ability to operate in cold conditions to eliminate German soldiers west of the Rhine River. Operating efficiently in cold weather climates can still be a deciding factor in mission accomplishment today, so Marines and Canadian soldiers trained over the three-day period in various mountain warfare tactics and procedures.
“Aside from using our internal cold weather mountain leaders, we were afforded the opportunity to work with the Canadians who had a winter warfare classes set up,” said Staff Sgt. Chad DiBiase, a platoon commander, Co. C. “They had three stations: penetration and demolition showing the capabilities ice can provide for cover, survival and shelter, and snaring and ice fishing.”
The Marines also patrolled and conducted a raid while traversing the rough, snow-packed terrain. They used their cold weather gear and knowledge gained from their Canadian counterparts to hike through the rough terrain, construct debris shelters, build fires more efficiently and procure food from ice fishing.
“We are allies, we do everything together, and you never know what environment you are going to be in,” added Capt. Craig Hannon, a mountain warfare instructor with 2nd Battalion, Irish Regiment of Canada. “Canadians are used to the cold; a lot of Americans are used to the cold, and a lot aren’t. So it is important we train because it is survival, and if you know how to live in that environment you are better off. You aren’t going to become a casualty, and you will be able to continue on with your mission.”
Operating in cold weather is nothing new for Marines, and retaining that ability is critical.
“I always think back when it gets cold to the Marines in Korea at the Chosin Reservoir, there are going to be situations like that which can come up,” said Cpl. Michael Higgins, team leader with Co. C. “We could go to places like Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and Korea. We are prepared for those situations; we have been doing this cold weather training for three years now so we are ready to go.”
Over the course of the three days the Marines and Canadian soldiers worked together and faced the elements of an arctic environment. With future plans to train in the Arctic Circle, the Marines will continue to accomplish any mission despite adverse weather conditions.