Politics

Army Mountain Warfare School awarded $30 million for new facility in Jericho

Soldiers Smugglers Notch
U.S. Army Capt. Jason Beams, Training Division officer at the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, observes soldiers climbing Smugglers' Notch during a course in February 2015. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison

The Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho received $30 million to build a new, state of the art facility as part of the $738 billion defense budget signed by President Donald Trump last week. 

The new 82,600-square-foot school will be built at the Ethan Allen Firing Range. It is expected to be completed in 2022.

The Vermont Army National Guard Mountain Warfare School was first established in 1983 to train local soldiers how to operate on mountains and in rough terrain. In 2003, it officially became the United States Army Mountain Warfare School with trainees from all branches of the military, active and reserve.

Capt. Mikel Arcovitch, a Vermont National Guard spokesperson, said the current facility was built in 1987. He said discussions about a new school began in 2016.

“The school has just really expanded — there’s a lot more need as far as number of students and number of instructors and I think it’s really more an expansion issue than anything,” Arcovitch said.

Arcovitch said the school will train about 1,000 soldiers every year with 26 full time instructors and 30 part time instructors.

U. S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, right, speaks with Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts before a press conference in October. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement the $30 million will “support a critically important but previously unfunded priority of the Army” and “replace today’s aging facility to meet safety needs of today and rising demand.”

In 2005, and again in 2010, instructors from the school provided mountain and cold weather training to soldiers of the U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, said a VTNG press release announcing the funding.

Last year, VTDigger reported on an avalanche at Smugglers Notch which landed five soldiers from the school in the hospital in March. The injured trainees traveled 500 to 1,000 feet in the slide, but all survived. 

Arcovitch said the funding announced Monday “has nothing to do with the avalanche.”

In the press release, Michael Bleau, deputy construction and facilities management officer, said design work will begin in January 2020 and construction will be completed sometime early 2022. Arcovitch expects to break ground in late 2020.

“The Army Mountain Warfare School is a pretty amazing facility and the training that they do there is some of the best that soldiers can get in the Army,” Arcovitch said. “We’re obviously excited for this opportunity.”

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Jacob Dawson

About Jacob

Jacob Dawson is VTDigger's Burlington intern. Jacob is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied journalism and political science. While at UNH, Jacob was an editor and writer for the student newspaper while also serving as the news director for the student radio station. Jacob interned for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire in the summer of 2018. He graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School in 2015 and is originally from Williston, Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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