The Marine Corps is spending $7 million on new skis for Marines to train in cold weather, a Marine Corps official said.
The move comes after Marines found that some of their current skis were breaking, said Barbara Hamby, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Systems Command.
The Marine Corps plans to buy a total of 2,648 sets of new skis, boots and bindings for scout snipers, reconnaissance Marines and some infantry Marines, Hamby told Marine Corps Times on Friday.
The first 1,400 sets of skis and gear will be purchased in the second quarter of fiscal 2018 and fielding is planned for the second quarter of fiscal 2019, she said.
Marines with the Corps’ rotational force in Norway will be the first to get the new gear.
“I talked to the Norwegian colonel. I told him, no Marine is going to leave here unless they know how to ski,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Marines in Norway during a recent visit, Military.com reported.
Marines will receive the NATO ski system, which boasts of flexible bindings and a “ski march” boot, Lt. Col. Chris Madeline, program manager for infantry combat equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command, told Military.com.
With an increased focus on possible near-peer conflicts that could include Russia or North Korea, the Marines’ arctic preparedness has come into question.
Marine Corps Times first reported in April that Marines training in Norway and the Marine Corps Mountain Training Center in California found their standard-issue backpack frames were cracking and breaking.
The delivery of 16,000 reinforced backpack frames from a company in Puerto Rico was delayed one month by Hurricane Maria, but all the frames should be fielded by early 2018.
Senior reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this story.