'Bushmasters' plunge into deep end to train
January 19, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Soldiers, wearing Kevlars, load-bearing vests and blindfolds over their faces, inched their way to the outer edges of their respective diving board.
Each Soldier held a dummy rifle at the low ready position, while a Soldier pushed the unseeing trainees closer to the oblivion of the deep end of the swimming pool.
"Anyone can shoot, move and communicate on land," said Sgt. Bryan M. Beisell, a native of Eagle Grove, Iowa, and a cavalry scout with B Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division. "You need to be able to survive [in] water because you won't always be fighting a war over land."
Sergeant Beisell, dripping with water after his dip in the pool, was one of many Soldiers in B Troop who conducted combat water survivability training, Jan. 5, at the swimming pool in the Vanguard Fitness Center on Fort Stewart.
The cavalry scout said the training was very effective at introducing Soldiers to an unfamiliar environment.
"[There were] a lot of guys [who] weren't used to it and it messed with them a little bit," Sgt. Beisell said. "It was actually kind of scary getting pushed off blindfolded--the handkerchief…got in my mouth as I was trying to get air, and I ended up swallowing a cup of water."
The combat water survivability training began with a forced plunge into the deep end of the pool. Soldiers had to maintain control of their weapons while removing their blindfolds, Kevlars and load-bearing vests. Once they handed off the equipment to training assistants in the pool, the Soldiers swam, weapons in tow, to the other end.
Once there, the Soldiers moved to the other side of the pool and created flotation devices using ACU trousers. Their final task was to use the flotation aids to assist them with a swim back to the deep end.
"It's one of the…tasks that we have to perform," said Capt. Craig A. Brewer, a native of Billings, Mont., and commander of B Troop, 6/8th Cav. Regt. "It's just another way...for these guys to hone their individual skills."
Captain Brewer, who plunged into the water himself and completed the training, later spent time at the shallow end of the pool teaching his Soldiers how to create their trouser flotation devices.
The commander said he always enjoys watching his Soldiers train.
"They always have a great positive attitude,"Capt. Brewer said. "You never see fear on their [faces]. They just dive in and do what they're told, and they enjoy doing it."
Metaphors aside, the commander said the training accomplished the objective--it helped many of the Soldiers become accustomed to an environment they were unsure of.
"This is just one more way to make these Soldiers…good [all-around] Soldiers, whether it [is] in the water, out on the range or whatever it may be," Capt. Brewer said.