A look inside Ethan Allen’s training site, home to the Army’s Mountain Warfare School and the Vermont National Guard | Government

JERICHO – Sprawling over 445 acres of land in Jericho, Vermont, the Camp Ethan Allen training site is home to the Army Mountain Warfare School, one of two elite mountain training sites in the States -United.

Generally off-limits to all non-military personnel, the Vermont National Guard recently began opening the site’s gates to small tour groups.

“We have a lot of really great people doing a lot of great things, and we want to show it,” said Vermont National Guard public affairs officer Mikel Arcovitch. “Most of these soldiers have regular civilian jobs and show up during training periods to train for their careers in the military.”

The site is a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command School operating under the Vermont Army National Guard, which teaches basic, advanced, and specialized mountain warfare courses to service members Americans and foreigners, according to the National Guard.

“We’ve been firing high-explosive ordnance in this area for 100 years now,” said Tom Comes, Range Management Authority with prior service in the Vermont Army National Guard.

On Wednesday, July 19, the journalist attended the third tour organized by the Vermont National Guard and was able to see parts of the extensive facility and some training moments.






Signs hang on the gate of the Ethan Allen Range warning civilians that unauthorized entry is not permitted and that authorized persons require government-issued identification to enter.



Public tours of the site take place once a month and have limited registration places.

It was still a relatively cool day at 7.47am on Wednesday when this reporter showed her photo ID at a checkpoint before being directed down a dirt road to the building where the tour was meeting.

The tour group was made up entirely of Vermont residents, although Arcovitch said he had people from out of state on other tours.

Almost all of the other 12 participants had a connection to the military or lived in the area and wanted to see for themselves what was making the loud noises they could hear from their backyards.

“Can you imitate the sound?” Comes said after a tour participant spoke of being able to hear the lineup from his home. “Does it go ‘da da da’ or ‘brrrrr?'”

“That one,” said the tour participant after hearing the second sound effect.

After introductions were shared and Comes provided a general knowledge of the range with a topographic map, the tour proceeded in white vans for its first restaurant stop.







Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Bags of ready-to-eat meals sat in a black storage container next to stacks of cardboard boxes containing more MRES inside the range dining area.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Soldiers prepare sandwiches for their troop to eat later for lunch that day.



Inside the cafeteria, cardboard boxes containing “ready-to-eat meals” were stacked near the door, and soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 172nd Mountain Cavalry were busy making 70 sandwiches for lunch later during the day.

The next stop was at a shooting range where the US pentathlon team was preparing for a five-event competition that would take place over two weeks in Athens, Greece.

“These are not shooters trying to put together an Olympic team,” their coach said. “These are soldiers learning to do real-world combat skills, including marksmanship.”







Ethan Allen Shooting Range

A member of the The US pentathlon team looks at the target it was shooting moments before.



When there were no more questions for the pentathlon team, the tour continued to a shooting house where soldiers practice clearing buildings, an essential skill for urban combat, said Arcovitch.

Once up the stairs in an attic, the tour looked down into the gunhouse where a group of soldiers were running through a building clearing drill.

The trainees made gunshot noises with their mouths as they learned a new simulation. Their feet dragged rapidly on the concrete floors.







Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Climbing the wooden steps, the tour group passed a portrait of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, November 11, 1980, taken by The Associated Press.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

The group of tourists look at the shooting house where a group of soldiers go through a building clearing exercise on July 19.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

The soldier leading the other soldiers in building cleaning clings to his shoulder as they practice an exercise that involves pulling him back.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Trainees stand in the filming room and look into a room during a demonstration.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Soldiers stand on the ground floor and are seen through the floor moments before beginning a simulation in the firing range.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Soldiers walk through the simulation as the tour watches from above.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

The soldiers take a break from their training as the tour asks questions about what they are doing.



The final stop on the tour was at BP3 Range where the group watched soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 172nd Mountain Cavalry practice their marksmanship, firing at self-healing plastic targets.

Standing in the sun at noon, the temperature had soared to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but the soldiers, dressed with their pants tucked into their boots and their long-sleeved shirts, showed no signs of overheating.

Soldiers from Charlie Troop, out of Lyndonville, returned from a deployment to the Horn of Africa this winter, and the rest of the squadron returned in March from a deployment to Kosovo.

Because they had just returned from deployment, training that day was optional and only 70 soldiers elected to participate. If the whole troop was present, there would have been more than 300 people.







Ethan Allen Shooting Range

soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 172n/a Mountain Cavalry practice their marksmanship with an M2A1 pistol at self-healing plastic targets.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 172n/a Mountain Cavalry prepare an M2A1 gun for their practice.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 172n/a The mountain cavalry can be seen through the arms of Tom Comes, Range Management Authority with prior service in the Vermont National Guard.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

One of the tour members holds in his hands a casing he found on the ground, he then returned it to Tom Comes, Range Management Authority with prior service in the Vermont National Guard.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

The range control tower can be seen between two soldiers.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 172n/a Mountain Cavalry sits in the shade of a pickup truck taking a break from the sun on a hot day.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

A red the front sight of the unit comes out of the ground at the BP3 range. “A handlebar is a flag that each unit has that identifies who they are, and is a symbol of pride for the group. Usually when a unit is training in a particular area or location, they display their handlebars for you know who is training on site, ” said Mikel Arcovitch, public affairs officer for the Vermont National Guard.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

The practice targets, covered in bullet holes, lie in the grass as they are not currently in use. Auto targets can be controlled from the range control tower









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 172n/a The mountain cavalry eat their lunch.









Ethan Allen's Shooting Range

The only medic on site practices giving a soldier an IV bag.









Ethan Allen Shooting Range

Soldiers watch the BP3 range from the range control tower.



At the end of the tour, the group returned to their personal cars, re-crossing the checkpoint which they had received the rare permission to enter four and a half hours earlier.

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