401st Military Intelligence Battalion soaks up water survival training
December 29, 2011
The 401st Military Intelligence Company recently conducted water survival training to ensure the confidence of its Soldiers when they encounter a "wet environment." Sgt. 1st Class Fernando Torres and Sgt. 1st Class David Chacon led the training, which took place in the pool at the Brought Fitness Center. Participating were 21 Soldiers of the company, an element of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade that focuses on counterintelligence and analysis.
"I wish we got to do this more often," said Spc. Jack Edmiston about the training. "I was able to learn quite a bit about how to make my equipment work for me and what I need to do to survive in a water environment."
As always, there was a premium placed on safety, with non-swimmers pre-identified and two lifeguards on duty. Training began with a two-minute buoyancy test to help identify non-swimmers, or those personnel who appeared to lack confidence in the water.
After the buoyancy test, Soldiers were taught the difference between the "step-off entry" and the "stride entry" into the pool and how to maintain a low profile while exiting the body of water. At that point, participants had to complete the "water walk" and the "travel stroke" sequence with full gear and dummy M-16 rifles provided by the Training Aids Service Center.
Once the Soldiers completed the travel stroke according to standard, they received another course of instruction on properly treading water and the "hanging float." Participants, still in full gear but without the M-16 rifles, had to use both of these newly learned skills to remain as still in the water as possible for five minutes.
"That was tough," said Sgt. Perrie Morgan upon successfully exiting the pool. "It takes all of your muscle groups to keep your motions slow and steady so you don't float all over the pool."
Soldiers completed two more events during the day: the "travel stroke" without rucksack, which focuses on keeping the M-16 muzzle out of the water to maintain combat efficiency, and the five-minute buoyancy test without the rucksack as a floatation device.
"Obviously, the goal is to increase confidence," said Torres said after training was complete. "We have to raise the water skill level of all Soldiers in the company and teach the tools that will be useful if we are confronted with having to maintain Army operations in a wet environment."
The 401st MI Company plans to continue water survival training, eventually moving to the intermediate (class II) and advanced (class III) courses of instruction.