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Winter Is Coming: Ensuring U.S. Special Forces Are Prepared to Fight and Win in a Cold Weather Environment

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey 93943 United States

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For the past 17 years, United States Special Forces USSF has been decisively engaged in the Global War on Terror. Due to the deployment cycle and training requirements focused on deployments in the Middle East, many valuable skillsets, including the ability to fight, maneuver, and survive in extreme cold weather environments has atrophied across the force. In a majority of USSF units, extreme cold weather training is synonymous with high altitude and mountaineering training. Some teams and units do specialize in this type of terrain and train to a high level in technical mountaineering tasks, but too often the focus is on technical mountaineering skills and not how to survive and sustain operations in extreme cold weather environments. The recent 2018 National Defense Strategy, the multi-domain battle concept, and actions taken by peer and near-peer adversaries, all call for a shift in focus from the Middle East to adversaries such as Russia, China, and North Korea. Conflict with any of these adversaries will likely include some aspect of cold weather warfare. This research effort will define an adequate cold weather capability for USSF, and make recommendations to reach that capability.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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