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U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center


U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center
by GlobalSecurity.org

The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) is one of the Corps most remote and isolated post. The MCMWTC conducts formal schools for individuals and battalion training in summer and winter mountain operations. The training emphasizes development of both individual and unit mountain skills with primary emphasis on enhancing overall combat capability. Marines at the Center are also involved in testing cold weather clothing, equipment, human performance, rough terrain vehicles, and developing doctrine and concepts to enhance the Corps' ability to fight and win in mountain and cold weather environments.

The Winter Mountain Operations Course is designed to instruct units in the cold weather mountaineering skills necessary for winter combat operations. Physically demanding, the course is conducted in an inherently dangerous environment with an emphasis on safety, individual survival, cold weather bivouacs, route selection, over-the-snow mobility techniques, and avalanche safety and awareness. Students will apply battalion offensive / defensive tactics in field exercises representing real-world scenarios. The Winter Mountain Operations Course also teaches staff planning and combat service support requirements. Four active duty battalions are trained each winter (January - April), with each course 28 days in length. One reserve battalion completes a 14 day Winter Mountain Operations course every other December. Concurrent satellite programs include Sniper Sustainment Training, Scout Skier, Weapons Company Core Extension Package, Mountain Communications Course, Mountain Motor Transport Course, Mountain Engineer Course, and Recon Sustainment Training.

The Summer Mountain Operations Course emphasizes unit mastery of the mountaineering skills necessary for successful operations in a mountainous environment. Conducted in an austere and unpredictable environment, students will learn mountain safety, military rock climbing, fixed rope installations, mountain navigation, rappelling, and planning / coordinating platoon movement across rugged terrain. Small unit and battalion level field exercises will provide application of offensive and defensive mountain combat tactics, including staff planning, and combat service support requirements. Concurrent satellite programs include Sniper Sustainment Training, Assault Climbers Course, Tactical Rope Suspension Technician Certification, Animal Packing Course, Weapons Company Core Extension Package, Swift Water Rescue Course, Mountain Communications Course, Mountain Motor Transport Course, Mountain Engineer Course, and Recon Sustainment Training.

The Survival Sections provides instruction for Cold Weather Survival Courses and Summer Mountain Survival Courses. The instruction serves to train Marines in the fundamental skills that will enable them to survive in a winter or summer mountainous environment. Focus of effort is placed on instilling confidence and resourcefulness, with the desired result of building sound decision-makers that can operate in austere environments. In between formal courses the Survival Section can be tasked to provide Mountain Training Packages for various units and agencies.

Liberty while attending the course is almost nonexistent. The only exceptions are the first and last nights. However, weather and circumstances permitting, the Survival Course participates in several PMEs, which occur off base. MWTC is 21 miles from the nearest town, and 60-90 miles from the nearest urban area. Government transportation is not provided for liberty.

The MCMWTC is currently staffed with 19 officers (USMC/USN) and 215 enlisted (USMC/USN), all permanent personnel. When training units are present, as many as 1,200 personnel are on-board. Military housing is available in Coleville, CA. There are 110 units in the Housing Complex located 25 miles north of the Training Center. Civilian housing in the Walker/Coleville, CA area will cost $500.00 to $700.00 per month for a small two bedroom trailer. During the winter, utility bills can run as high as $150.00 for gas and electricity.

The center was established in 1951 as a Cold Weather Battalion with a mission of providing cold weather training for replacement personnel bound for Korea. After the Korea conflict the name was changed to the Marine Corps Cold Weather Training Center. As a result of it's expanded role it was renamed the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in 1963. MCMWTC operated on a full time basis until 1967 when it was placed in a caretaker status as a result of the Vietnam War. The training center was reactivated to a full-time command on May 19th 1976.

MCMWTC is located on California Highway 108 at Pickle Meadow. The center is 21 miles northwest of Bridgeport, California and 100 miles south of Reno, Nevada. The center occupies 46,000 acres of Toiyabe National Forrest under management of the U.S. Forrest Service. A letter of agreement between the Forrest Service an the Marine Corps permits the use of the area to train Marines in mountain and cold weather operations.

The center is cited at 6,762 feet, with elevations in the training areas ranging to just under 12,000 feet. During the winter season (October - April) snow accumulation can rear 6 to 8 feet. Further, sever storms can deposit as much as four feet in a 12 hour period. Annual temperatures range from -20 degrees to +90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Source: www.GlobalSecirity.org (2011)



U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (2005)
by Justin Ruhge
The Marine Corps activated the Bridgeport Center as the Cold Weather Training Battalion, Training and Replacement Command, Camp Pendleton on August 31, 1951. The cold weather mountain fighting the Marines had experienced in Korea during the winter of 1950 to 1951 pointed out the need for this specialized training. The first cold weather training for Korea-bound Marines was conducted out of Camp Pendleton. After early brief training at Big Bear and other sites relatively close to the camp, the Marines decided they needed a year-round site where both cold weather and mountain training could be conducted. They decided upon Pickel Meadows on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately twenty miles northeast of Bridgeport. Camp Pendleton is 445 miles to the southwest of the Center and Reno, Nevada is 100 miles to the north of the Center. It is approximately 60,153 acres are in the Toyiabe National Forest and are used under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Marines and the U.S. Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, the owner of the land. Because of its location, the Center is sometimes referred to as Pickel Meadows or the Bridgeport Center. Pickels was an early settler in the region.
Marine training began at the site in December 1951. Originally planned as a temporary facility, in its first winter season of training. 23,213 Marines passed through its courses and facilities. Infantry, motor transport and maintenance personnel, and Navy medical personnel all learned how to take care of themselves and their equipment under cold weather conditions.

Over 6,000 feet above sea level, Camp Pickel Meadows, as it is sometimes called, became an all-year mountain as well as cold weather training site in the summer of 1952. Active and reserve Marine Corps units continued to rotate through the installation for mountain, cold weather, survival, and other training depending on the season, until 1965. Reflecting the broader emphasis, the Corps renamed the Center the Mountain Warfare Center in November 1963.
In November 1965, as the conflict in Southeast Asia began to grow in intensity, the Marine Corps temporarily reduced the staff and reduced or cancelled cold weather, mountain and selected other courses at the Center in order to meet manpower needs elsewhere and to focus on the hot climate jungle warfare training needed for the new war. However, its Survival Evasion, Resistance to Interrogation, and Escape School continued to operate and grow. Finally, on September 12, 1967 the Corps placed the Center in a caretaker status.
At least from 1971 on, when the First Marine Division returned from Vietnam to Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps conducted some cold weather and mountain training at the installation. Its' staff grew in the spring of 1976, and on May 10, 1976 the Corps formally reactivated the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.
Bridgeport, Mono County.
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