Training for war can be as dangerous as war

| March 18, 2018 | 28 Comments

Last Wednesday, several instructors and students of the Mountain Warfare School at Camp Ethan Allen, Vermont tried to scale Smuggler’s Notch in order to gauge conditions for training. They were consumed by an avalanche, six members of the team were injured.

In this video, Vermont National Guard Lt. Col. Matthew Brown, commander of Army Mountain Warfare School briefs a report of the incident.

Only two members of the team are still in hospital. The leaders that day, kept the casualties at a minimum, despite the deadly conditions. You can hear a measure of pride in LTC Brown’s voice while he talks about the actions of his soldiers.

Category: National Guard

Comments (28)

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  1. AW1Ed says:

    If “luck” can be quantified as experience, skill, ability, and leadership, then these men were lucky.

    Bravo Zulu, Vermont NG!

    • SSG Kane says:


      Five years ago my company sent me to AMWS, but due to issues with funding only gave me two weeks worth of orders. I found the cadre, the leadership, and the civilian instructors to all be of the highest calibure and quality. Which was a doubled ended sword for me.

      They let me stay until my orders ran out, and worked dilligently behind the scenes to get me orders that would have let me stay and complete the course, but they just couldn’t do it. So they had to send me home from it, their professionalism and attention to detail required it.

      One of the first lessons they taught was that mother nature was an unforgiving bitch and if you didn’t do things exactly the right way at the right time, she’d fuck you.

      • Graybeard says:

        With the standard caveat that I never served in the military and don’t have any first-hand experiences with the added dangers that entails:

        For 16 years I took other people’s teenagers on vacation – in the mountains, in the desert, and into remote backcountry areas where the nearest clinic was days away.

        “Mother Nature” is a vicious mother. You can die, even when doing nothing “wrong”.

        Chronos eats his children, Mother Nature serves them to him on a plate.

  2. Buckeye Jim in MA says:

    I recall reading somewhere that 15,000 men were lost in training accidents during WW2 just in the aviation community. Something to keep in mind when someone tries to denigrate one’s service with comments such as “well, they never saw combat.”

    War, and training for war, certainly are dangerous endeavors.

  3. Sapper3307 says:

    Black fly’s of death in the summer freeze to death in the winter welcome to Vermont. We used to do a three day training lesson with the mountain school a few times a year on drill weekends, it is good stuff.

    • NHSparky says:

      I don’t know which is worse–the black flies eating you alive or the no-see-ums getting into every nook and cranny of your body.

      Or the ticks. Damn those little bastards.

  4. Frankie Cee says:

    Am I missing something? I can’t find a video.

  5. FatCircles0311 says:

    I bet they will still be punished by manadwtory ORM briefings.

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    Snow on a mountainside is NOT your friend. Period. EVER.

  7. MSG Eric says:

    We had a Soldier get injured in a training event one time years back. The company and battalion commanders were freaky little pussies about it but the Group Commander basically said, “Well, it is training, she’ll live right? Drive on.” And that was the end of it, luckily.

    Mountain Warfare ain’t no joke, just like other high intensity schools. Troops will get hurt sometimes, just how it goes. I just hope his story doesn’t change in 3 days because someone decided it wasn’t politically correct.

  8. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Thank God nobody was killed.

  9. MrBill says:

    I never got close to combat. I always say that the most hazardous thing I did in the Army was to participate in field exercises, and it’s true.

  10. Thunderstixx says:

    As a certified Ski Instructor and Mountaineering Instructor from my time in I can tell you that mountain training is about the most dangerous training with the exception of explosives or hand grenades.
    I spent two years in Alaska, Infantry, and went to Huckleberry Creek Mountain Training Camp in Mt Rainier National Park for the last 9 months of my service in the US Army.
    We didn’t lose anyone, but we did have numerous close calls in both AO’s.
    Oh, and one 200 yard incident with a full grown Grizzly Bear in Alaska… I sear that thing was the biggest thing I have ever seen. He was at least 14 feet tall and his paws were about a foot in diameter.
    The claws ??? Like about nine inches long, or two feet depending on your observation point…
    I’m glad they got out OK. Mountain training is quite dangerous, winter or summer…

  11. Skip Foss says:

    I am a long time reader and have wanted to jump in upon occasions. My service was of the domestic type, LEO, but I grew up in a Army household. I wanted to share this with you as it is about my hero. My Dad was one of the original members of the 10th Mountain and fought in Attu / Kiska (87th Mountain Infantry Battalion part of Task Force 9) before going off to Europe. He has fought in WWII Korea and Vietnam He ran the cold weather command for about one cycle at Camp Hale after he returned from a 36 month detention in North Korea before taking the family for a European vacation and then on to the mysterious Orient (still an accompanied tour in the 60-62) Dad always told me “son the weather is your greatest ally and your worst enemy rolled into one.”

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