Undisclosed Area of Operation - ‘Bob’ had been traveling with the locals through some gnarly terrain. The canyons and high mountain passes the group was moving through reminded him of the Rocky Mountains back in his home state of Colorado. The problem for ‘Bob’ was that four legs were moving him instead of two... the locals had horses and horses were the preferred means of transportation... ‘Bob’ didn’t know anything about horses.
Not willing to miss the opportunity to embed with these ‘friendlies’ and move to a known area of interest with them, ‘Bob’ had surmised that he could figure out the whole bareback horse riding gig on the fly... in his line of service adapting was paramount. Now high above the valley floor on a trail that looked as though it had been chiseled out of a cliff his nerves were frayed. He was so focused on his horse and not falling off that his operational awareness was slim to none.
The United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center has launched a new program to ensure that ‘Bob’ and operators like him have the tools necessary to utilize one of the most popular means of transportation in austere environs around the world... the horse. As a result, the training center has now gone fully operational with a new 'Special Operations Horsemanship' program.
This week American300, a non-government organization which brings unique volunteers to bases around the world visited the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center for the 3rd time. “We have a unique relationship with the Wrangler Corporation and the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s top horseman,” says Rob Powers, founder of the all volunteer nonprofit “When we found out about the Animal Packers and Special Operations Horsemanship courses we approach Colonel Carroll and Sergeant Major Kirkland of the MWTC and asked if we could lend a hand with some volunteer subject matter experts to work with the cadre.”
The response by program manager Tony Parkurst, a retired USMC Master Sergeant was to open the barn doors to American300's cowboys. Cowboys, like Hall of Fame World Champions Lewis Feild and John Jones Jr. who spent a week with the Packer and Special Operations Horsemanship Cadre in July.
This week, the nonprofit brought world champion mounted shooter, Annie Ellett of Cave Creek Arizona to the base. “I’ve traveled with American300 to Iraq and Afghanistan three times... we flew over so many remote villages where horses and pack animals were the means of transporting supplies and people... I think this new special operations course is going to offer the right stuff to our service members.”
After spending 5 hours in the saddle with cadre moving through the mountains surrounding the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Ellett added " it’s like God recreated Afghanistan and that region of the world's mountains right here in the Sierra Nevada’s and we have cadre that can teach folks how to negotiate through it on horseback... that’s as good as it gets.”
While American300 guests have very strong resiliency resume’s, providing subject matter experts wasn’t what turned Powers and the nonprofit onto the base initially “The Marine cadre members and support staff here are located off the beaten path and their training schedules are non-stop. At first we just wanted to bring the cadre and support team members some unique visitors, brighten their day with appreciation and some resiliency messaging which is our trademark programming.” says Powers “but with the Special Operations Horsemanship program going on line and our access to some of the best horsemen in the world through the Wrangler Corporation and their Wrangler National Patriot program we’re happy to be helping in new ways.”
Helping make it so that ‘Bob’ and others like him will feel comfortable moving around in austere environments on horseback's of the future.
American300 can be found on the web at: www.American300.org
For more information on the USMC MWTC visit: www.mwtc.usmc.mil