CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines are trained with the intent to be the best in any situation and any environment, whether in the sweltering heat or the freezing cold. They are always looking to expand their combat capabilities by training for operations in arctic and mountainous areas. This includes learning to work with the latest in cold-weather gear.
Until now, Marines have been using antiquated 1950s-era 10-man Arctic tents that exceeded their service life and no longer met operational requirements. The task fell to Marine Corps Systems Command to replace the outdated equipment, drawing upon materiel developers to deliver the solution with new Arctic shelters.
"We wanted to make sure the Marines could survive in extreme cold weather, so this shelter can handle temperatures from as low as negative 40 degrees and as high as 125 degrees," said Jim Batton, Arctic shelter project officer. "This is what it's all about; making sure these Marines are able to do their jobs as efficiently as possible."
He said the new shelter uses the latest materials and technology while retaining the same function, based on input from previous user evaluations. The size of the new tent is increased slightly to accommodate more Marines who might be attached to a rifle squad and the cold-weather clothing and equipment already fielded. One Arctic shelter will be employed per rifle squad with more tents available for headquarters and more personal at the platoon, company and battalion levels.
The shelter is just one component of an extensive offering of military shelter system products. This system is part of the mission to provide innovative solutions for the U.S. military and allied forces.
The Marine Corps has almost 1,700 shelters, each comprised of venting and stove-pipe and heater accommodations as well as insulation. It offers several energy-efficient features, deploys with no additional tools and requires only four personnel for setup. With its larger frame, it can also accommodate up to 15 personnel as opposed to the existing 10-man tents.
The shelter design is simple to ensure the system can be set up in 20 minutes or less.
"These tents are designed to be rapidly employed. It takes a 10th of the time to put together as compared to the old model, and you don't have to worry about the manpower," said Stephen Dixon, warehouse chief at 1st Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15. "In cold-weather circumstances you don't want to be out longer than necessary, so this will be perfect in those situations. With this latest system I believe we can get a lot accomplished."
More than 110 Marines across the Marine Expeditionary Forces have taken the two-day course that introduces them to the new shelters, making them subject matter experts and ensuring the success of future operations with the system.
"I've worked with several shelters before, and this has been much easier to set up. I think that's important, because if you're out in the field and need to get set up and get ready for any mission, then we can do it a lot faster," said Pfc. Noe Rivera, a fiscal clerk with Marine Aircraft Group 39.
The system is being used for training exercises in Bridgeport, California, and is slated to be integrated into exercises early next year.