Archive for February 25, 2011
Like A Bridge Under Troubled Waters
Believe it or not, this wet and overloaded soldier is using a bridge to cross this Florida swamp – a rope bridge.
It’s all part of training during the third and final phase of the 61-day U.S. Army Ranger School course. Based at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Ranger School tests students’ skills, strength, endurance and adaptability under grueling physical and psychological conditions during 18-to-20-hour days. The average graduation rate is just 40 percent.
Those who do graduate are entitled to wear the black and gold Ranger shoulder tab on their uniform. In addition to officers and non-commissioned offers of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the school also trains a select number of candidates each year from the other U.S. military services, including Reserve components, as well as foreign military services.
The Ranger course is broken down into three phases: the physical assessment and woodland terrain phase at Camp Rogers and Camp Darby at Benning; the mountain phase at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia; and the swamp phase at Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The first phase spends 21 days training students in small unit tactics as well as squad- and platoon-size mission planning. But first they have to pass a rigorous series of physical fitness and infantry capabilities tests including being able to do 49 pushups in two minutes, complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes or less, combat water survival, day/night land navigation and timed, long marchs in full gear.
Another 21 days is spent in the mountain phase at Dahlonega, Georgia learning to lead small units in a mountainous environment.
The final phase takes 17 days to learn rope bridge, small boat and swamp maneuvering under the same grueling conditions in Florida’s swamps and coastal waters.
A fourth, Desert phase at Fort Bliss, Texas, was eliminated in 1995.
To see a Defense Department photo slide show of the Ranger Swamp training click here.
Every Day Has its Dog
Meet Edy, a military working dog participating in an explosive training session at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan. Edy, a three-year-old Sable Shepherd, specializes in explosives detection on patrol. He can identify at least 15 scents associated with explosives.
Edy’s handler is Air Force Staff Sgt. Pascual Gutierrez, who is assigned to Combined Team Zabul and is deployed with the 9th Security Forces Squadron, from Beale Air Force Base, Calif. Gutierrez is currently attached to the Army’s 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan.
Most of the military’s working dogs get their initial training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, but specialized training — like combat tracking or finding and identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — another name for homemade bombs – comes later.
At a recent speech at a Washington think tank, Ashton Carter, the Defense Department’s acquisition executive, said “it turns out the best detector of home made explosives is the dog.”
The Defense Department is ramping up its acquisition of bomb detection dogs and canines with other skill sets like guarding military facilities or accompanying U.S. troops on patrol, Carter told a gathering at the Center for a New American Strategy. After years of buying airplanes, ships and armored vehicles, “we’re new to learning how to buy dogs,” he said.
To see a Defense Department photo essay on Edy and other working dogs undergoing training in Afghanistan, click here.