ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (Army News Service, Feb. 5, 2007) - Paratroopers here have added another element to their arsenal of maneuver capabilities: amphibious transportation.

The Scout Platoon for the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will use the aluminum utility boat to conduct reconnaissance throughout their area of operation.

"This new addition gives us the ability to use routes the enemy would not expect us to use," said 1st Lt. Matt Didier, scout platoon leader.

In addition to opening new routes, the boat can carry up to 15 combat-equipped paratroopers versus the five personnel that can be carried in a Humvee.

Since most of the scout's missions are normally dismounted, the Soldiers went through a swim test and various battle drills before being allowed to incorporate the boat into the unit's missions.

"Each paratrooper had to complete a swim test with full combat gear and learn how to enter and exit the boat," said Didier. "Also, each squad would go over battle drills with reacting to enemy contact and procedures for a downed vehicle."

Before conducting actual missions, the platoon practiced several dry-fire missions to familiarize themselves with water-borne operations.

"It is a very different way to conduct missions for our platoon, but the paratroopers picked up on the training quickly and drove on with the mission without any problems," said Didier. "It is a great asset for our brigade. It is a great tool to help combat the enemy and to help make Iraq a safer place."

Though the boat will not replace the Humvee, Didier said it will greatly add to the unit's effectiveness.