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US Army proving out snowmobiles for resupply, manoeuvre

A US Army snow machine pulls a sled full of Meals, Ready-to-Eat during the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center 24-02 training rotation in February 2024. (Janes/Meredith Roaten)

Soldiers supported brigades from the backs of snowmobiles for the US Army's first large-scale exercise with a significant number of machines, service officials told Janes during the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) 24-02 training rotation held from 12 to 22 February at Fort Greely, Alaska.

The exercise utilised more than 100 Polaris snow machines for resupply and medical evacuation, and to transport soldiers, Major General Brian Eifler told Janes on 21 February. Arctic leaders are still facingquestions about sustainment for such a large force of machines and what kind of machines should stock the army's fleet, he said.

The 11th Airborne Division purchased 160 snowmachines to put two with each company, modelled after Canada's Arctic operations, Maj Gen Eifler told Janes in October 2023. Canada and Mongolia participated in the JPMRC rotation, but Canada had the largest presence in the exercise.

After one exercise, they are already “part of the total package for sustainment”, Maj Gen Eifler said. However, the army is weighing the machines with varying tread strengths and weights, trying to get closer to “the perfect snow machine”. The army will likely have to buy multiple types of machines to work in different environments.

This year the army used two kinds of machines, a Ski-doo Skandic and a Polaris 600 IQ Widetrak.

Modifications had to be made to the purchased machines because their lights would not turn off, Sergeant Gavyn Gentry, an exercise planner with the 11th Airborne Division, told Janes

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