Southern Vanguard 24 Soldiers attend Brazilian Night Jungle Familiarization and Academics Course
New York National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Brian Pasquale, combat medic assigned to the 466th Medical Company Area Support, discusses creating a modified shotgun shell with a Brazilian Army jungle trainer at the night portion of the jungle familiarization and academics portion of Southern Vanguard 24 in Belem, Brazil, Nov. 4, 2023. Southern Vanguard, an annual bilateral exercise that rotates between partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility, enhances interoperability between the United States and partner nation forces. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni) VIEW ORIGINAL

BELEM, BRAZIL – Four New York Army National Guard combat medics assigned to the 466th Medical Company, Area Support (MCAS), completed a Brazilian jungle familiarization and academics course with U.S. Army South, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 7th Special Forces Group and 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade Soldiers Nov. 1-4.

The medics are among 18 medical personnel and their Brazilian partners providing medical care to service members in Belem, Macapa and Oiapoque during the Southern Vanguard training exercise Nov. 6-16.

New York Army National Guard Maj. Shelly Respecki, the commander of the 466 MCAS, believes the opportunity to learn about the jungle from the Brazilian Army is an invaluable experience.

“The course allows our Soldiers to understand what threats and risks are involved with training in the jungle,” said Respecki. “We’ll be better able to treat the participants knowing what they’re going through and how to survive in the jungle.”

Participants in the jungle course learned about fruits and vegetables in the jungle, hunting and survival techniques, day and night land navigation, and conducting jungle movements and recovery.

Sgt. Gina Alexandro enjoyed the experience.

“I’m excited to not only function as a medic but actually be incorporated in the training with them,” said Alexandro. “I’ve been able to practice on my machete, build my own jungle hooch, and eat exotic fruits.”

Sgt. Brion Pasquale, a combat medic and civilian emergency medical technician, returned for his second visit to Brazil after attending Operation Parana III in the southern region of Brazil.

“I really love coming back to Brazil,“ he said. “It was such a great experience the first time, but to get this type of training in the Amazon is special.”

The 466 MCAS had medical field tents in various locations where service members could be treated for heat-related illnesses, environmental threats, emergency trauma and any other potential illnesses or diseases.

“We have a strong team here on the ground with lots of experience,” said Respecki. “The Brazilian medical team here have been open and receptive, and it’s been great working together.”

The New York National Guard and Brazil have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 2018.

The 30-year-old SPP program now includes 88 partnerships with 100 nations around the globe.

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