Soldiers are known for being ready for any obstacle that may come their way. Throughout history, Soldiers have fought up mountains, through jungles, and across deserts. Nowadays combat is few and far between, however, Soldiers continue to train in austere terrain to keep their skills sharp and to continue bettering their techniques.
Approximately 100 Soldiers mainly assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) completed jungle survival and combat training, here, Nov. 1-4, 2023.
The training area’s tropical rainforest presented Soldiers with a unique opportunity to train in unfamiliar terrain and climate before the start of Southern Vanguard 24.
“This aims to provide a glimpse into the work we do in survival and combat situations in the jungle,” explained Col. Rodrigo Ribeiro, the commander of the Second Jungle Infantry Battalion. “Naturally, our troop are an operational force specialized in jungle combat, but survival training is crucial for us to always consider the jungle as our ally.”
During the four-day course, Infantry Sgt. 3rd Class Irwing, a jungle instructor assigned to 2nd Battalion, taught basic jungle survival skills to the Soldiers, demonstrating how to survive in the Amazon jungle.
“This operation is very important for us in the Brazilian Army to teach and also learn techniques,” he noted. “We are aligning [and] strengthening our friendship between Brazil and the United States.”
Irwing and other jungle instructors taught the Soldiers what kinds of plants are edible, how to navigate, how to make ropes and traps to catch food, how to make fire and to cook food, how to make shelter, and how to interact with wildlife safely.
“I’ve been to four different jungle schools, and I’ve pulled a lot more information out of this one,” admitted Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewis, squad leader assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “Even with the language barrier, they’re really in-depth on how the explain everything and everyone seems to understand it with all the practical exercises.”
The Soldiers were pushed out of their comfort zones in the humid, tropical environment, which is different from the dry climates of recent battlefields.
The Brazilian Army provided the Soldiers with a unique training environment and opportunity that is not readily available to the unit based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
“Being in an infantry company, we get after it as much as we can, but once you put us in a different environment, it completely transforms what we are trying to do and we have to accommodate to complete the mission,” explained Capt. Christopher Bristol, the commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Soldiers swam through murky water and trekked through the dark jungle, unaware of what they would face on the other side.
Sweaty, wet, and tired from running through thick jungle vegetation and swimming through swampy water, which presented a challenge for some of them, the Soldiers summoned the willpower and strength from within to press on. They were determined to finish what they started.
“They are actually testing the physical and mental limits they didn’t know they had,” Lewis said with conviction. “Walking through the rain, being constant wet and tired, they learned they had more push than they anticipated themselves having.”
With training complete, knowledge wasn’t the only thing taken away. The skills they learned during jungle academics will be useful for the Soldiers, who will soon find themselves reacting to scenarios where these skills will be necessary.
The jungle academic training ultimately prepares them for a 4-day field training exercise in Oiapoque, Brazil, later this month.