Krista Corner Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
As bitter cold settles in northern Montana, nine Border Patrol agents attached to the Havre sector scatter throughout Beaver Creek Park Friday for land navigation training. Alex Harrington, public information officer for the U.S. Border Patrol, breaks down wood pallets for the fire pit at the gazebo on Bear Paw Lake in the Bears Paw Mountains. Senior Border Patrol agent Obadiah Rouse, attached to the Shelby sub-station of the Havre Sector, peers through binoculars checking on the teams of agents he brought out for training. With only one hand protected by a glove, Rouse briefly warms his bare hand from the 2-below temperature and 9-mile-an-hour wind. "This is the best training weather you can get," Rouse said Friday morning. Rouse instructed nine other Havre Sector agents for eight hours inside a classroom Thursday, then took them out to the park Friday morning in freezing cold temperatures, on snow-covered ground, for the field operations course, which he designed himself. This is the first of the classes since the Hill County Park Board approved the Request by the Border Patrol to use Beaver Creek Park for up to 20 training sessions per year. The goal, said Rouse, is to instruct the entire Havre Sector's agents on use of traditional land navigation techniques using a map and compass. He also hopes to train other law enforcement agencies, emergency personnel and search and rescue teams in the near future. "We did this training for several reasons," he said. "Thi s wi l l boos t morale, improve communication and cooperation among agencies that quite frequently work together." Partcipating agents had come from numerous stations, all attached to Havre sector. Rouse said he wasn't just hand-picked for the job. He, along with several others, submitted memos explaining why they felt they were qualified for the job and went through an interview process before being selected. Rouse, a former Marine, said he hadn't actually navigated terrain with a map and compass since basic and infantry training. "I had to bone up on it," he said. He did research on the techniques to refresh his skills he said, while trying to point out a team of agent s to Harrington. Both men, former Marines, seemed to be enjoying the weather, training and camaraderie. "This isn't part of my job description," Harrington said while breaking down pallets for the fire. "Once a Marine, always a Marine," Rouse reminded him. Th e La n d Nav i g a t i o n Training is designed so that agents will be able to find little green stakes using only a map and compass in a six-hour period. Eight of the agents Friday worked in teams of two and one worked alone. In May, the Hill County Park Board approved the Border Patrol's request for use of the park for training purposes. The Border Patrol may use the park for 20 days throughout the year. Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Charles Albrecht gave a 20-minute presentation at the board meeting which included a description of equipment necessary to perform the training exercises and where the equipment would tentatively be placed. Albrecht previously said the land navigation training would be performed about once a month and in conditions normal for the area as agents are on duty at all hours of the day and night and during all months of the year. Hill County Park Board Chair Steve Mariani said Friday the Border Patrol was instructed they must notify B e a v e r C r e e k Pa r k Superintendent Chad Edgar before each training exercise, after the initial approval. That, way, Mariani said, the agents wouldn't be interfering with any major functions and the park's activities wouldn't interfere with the agents' training. With the first marker located Friday narly two hours into the exercise, Border Patrol Agent Josh Anderson of Malta and Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Mike Stewart of Havre met in a shared shiver. "I'm freezing..." Anderson said.