VALCARTIER, QC, CANADA –
Valcartier, Quebec - Sergeant 1st Class Chris Vincent has served in Connecticut's 1-102nd Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), for 24 years, which includes three deployments, and it's safe to say he has had an extraordinary past few weeks.
Vincent served as an alternate on the U.S. Edelweiss Raid team that finished 10th in the grueling Austrian race taking place on March 1st and 2nd. He then immediately flew from Europe back to the United States and upon returning home, reported for Guerrier Nordique 23, which departed for Valcartier, Quebec, on March 6.
The Edelweiss Raid is a competition held in Austria every other year, where military teams from across the world come to train and compete in a race that includes skiing, mountaineering, casualty evacuations, and military tactics. "In 2019 I saw information on the first Edelweiss Raid, and I encouraged one of our lieutenants to try out," said Vincent. "This year the same lieutenant pushed me to tryout with him. I did and made it as an alternate. It's the most fun I've had on a mission in my 24 years."
Vincent had expressed interest in both training opportunities. Exact dates changed multiple times and Vincent was unsure he would be able to get back from the raid in time to make it for Guerrier Nordique. The timeline fell in place where Vincent missed only one day of training in Vermont and could make it with the main group’s movement to Valcartier.
Having participated in Guerrier Nordique in 2015 and 2016, Vinson is one of the more experienced U.S. tent members.
"You go from thinking you know some stuff about cold weather training to actually doing it in the Arctic and it really changes your perspective," said Vincent. "My experience drove change in how my battalion in Connecticut conducts cold weather training. Our standard operating procedures, the tents we use, we ordered toboggans, different stoves…it is really incredible training. It changed everything."
One of Vincent's main goals during Guerrier Nordique is to train the next group of Soldiers preparing for the mission. It is critical for the Soldiers from his unit, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry, based in Connecticut to continuously learn and pass on new information to the rest of the Soldiers in the unit. Training the next generation is important for continued success. Without it, many lessons learned from the exercise and the experience of the Canadian Soldiers stand to be lost.
After the completion of training later this week in Quebec, the main body of U.S. Soldiers from Connecticut, Utah, New Hampshire, Vermont, the 11th Airborne Division out of Alaska, and the National Guard Bureau will participate in Guerrier Nordique 23 in Resolute Bay, Nanuvut, Canada. With 22 U.S. Soldiers represented, Guerrier Nordique 23 is the largest U.S. presence since Vermont first participated in 2012.Guerrier Nordique is a training exercise hosted in Quebec each year. Canadian Soldiers, mostly reservist, navigate domestic operation scenarios in the extreme cold. This year is notably austere with the exercise taking place within the Arctic Circle.