The Army is serious about placing more emphasis on cold-weather warfare as competition with “near-peers” Russia and China in the Arctic intensifies. So, the Army has redesigned the rectangular “Arctic” tab that denoted that a soldier had graduated the Northern Warfare Cold Weather Leader’s Course (CWLC). They have now made the tab into an arced-shaped one similar to the other currently authorized tabs such as the Ranger, Sapper, Advisor and the Special Forces tabs.

Army troops that graduated the Northern Warfare Training Center’s Cold Weather Leaders Course (CWLC) in late January became the first to wear the redesigned tab, according to the Army’s press release. And now soldiers assigned to any of the Pacific commands, and not just in Alaska, are authorized to wear the tab. 

“I think what makes U.S. Army Alaska and our units unique is that we are the Army’s proponent for cold-weather training,” said MG Peter B. Andrysiak Jr., U.S. Army Alaska commander. “We not only live here; we thrive here, and I want to make sure the tab properly recognizes our unique expertise.”

According to the press release in DVIDS, the former rectangular tab was worn below a soldier’s unit patch; the Arctic tab now rests above the patch, joining other such well-known skills tabs such as the Ranger or Sapper tab. 

Soldiers earn the Arctic tab after completing either the CWLC or the Cold Weather Orientation Course held at the Black Rapids Training Site run by U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) Northern Warfare Training Center (NWTC) instructors. Upon graduating either course, soldiers are then qualified to teach basic, cold weather and ski training programs within their parent units.

“Anything can fail, even on the coldest days,” Steve Decker, an NWTC instructor, said. “Soldiers attending these cold-weather courses are taught ways to get around those failures.”

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Some of the available tabs to serving Soldiers.

CWLC is a 15-day course where squad- and platoon-level leaders learn everything from the basics of standing and moving on skis and snowshoes to a full range of arctic survival skills. CWOC is a four-day course for commanders and staff officers to successfully plan and conduct operations in an arctic environment. Cold weather risk-management procedures are stressed throughout the courses.

“From jumping into minus 100, bitter, cold, exiting the aircraft over Prudhoe Bay, to conducting live-fire exercises at minus 30 in the Donnelly Training Area, the Northern Warfare Training Center’s team of professionals ensure our Soldiers are ready to deploy, fight, and win in an arctic environment,” said CSM Jeffrey Dillingham, USARAK’s senior enlisted leader. “We are the first line of defense in the West and the last line of defense in the Pacific. We are ready, we are arctic warriors, and we are arctic tough.”

Despite the feelings of Black Rapid’s instructors and command element, the vast majority of readers on such social media sites such as Reddit and in other websites were negative about the redesigned, and now authorized, tabs.

One reader asked if the Old Guard’s Cassion Platoon would now get a “Horse” tab. Another reader, who works in a machine shop, said that it was a great idea that they should add “machinist, welder, fabricator, inspector, and oiler” tabs to their coveralls to easier identify them. From there many comments devolved into making fun of the Army’s decision. 

Other posters on different military social media sites seemed to want to know if their service in Ft. McCoy, WI or Ft. Drum, NY in the harsh winters there, authorized them to wear the Arctic tab. Thus far, the answer is no, but with the trend of the Army to make everything “elite,” that may soon change. 

But enterprising individuals wasted little time in marketing the latest Army decision. Less than a day after the official announcement, subdued Arctic tabs were listed for sale on Amazon.com. Capitalism still reigns supreme.