"This type of training builds confidence in our junior soldiers, the kind of confidence that make our troopers the finest in the world."
--Col. Henry H. Shelton
2-504th Infantry Attends Jungle Operations Training Course
by Specialist Four Dave McNally
Originally published in the "The
FORT SHERMAN, Panama - - Troopers from the 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry (Airborne) recently jumped into Panama to begin jungle training.
During the early morning of January 25, 1985, over 600 paratroopers loaded onto a C-141 "Starlifter" aircraft for the five and a half hour flight to the Panamanian drop zone.
The battalions adjutant, Captain Kurt Lyman, described the operation as, "a prelude to Exercise Kindle Liberty 85", a joint-service training exercise in Panama.
"The Jungle Operations Training Course (JOTC) here at Fort Sherman," Lyman said, "is two weeks of intensive jungle-warfare training designed to aid the soldier on the upcoming exercise."
The tropical climate of the jungle contrasted sharply with Fort Braggs recent cold spell. According to JOTC instructors, the soldiers will not be acclimatized until its time to return to Fort Bragg. For the first three weeks in the jungle, it is necessary to down nine to 14 quarts of water per day.
Training at JOTC is varied and, to many soldiers, exciting. Airborne troopers learned to become "waterborne," and how to survive and fight in a jungle environment.
Finest in the World
"JOTC trains our troopers to survive where the 82nd Airborne Division may have to fight someday," said Colonel Henry H. Shelton, 1st Brigade commander. "This type of training builds confidence in our junior soldiers, the kind of confidence that make our troopers the finest in the world."
That confidence is built through tough training at JOTC. Training includes "Green Hell," a challenging and dangerous obstacle course. Troopers learn how to rig a rubber raft for a combat operation and how to navigate in the jungles.
Soldiers learned about what to eat in a survival situation because the jungle is full of poisonous and dangerous plants and creatures. Instructors reminded paratroopers that the most dangerous thing in the jungle is the U.S. Soldier. "Hes the boss. He controls it," instructors stress.
After graduation from JOTC, the soldiers will be recognized as "Jungle Experts."
Task Force 2-504 will remain at Fort Sherman for two weeks.
The battalions redeployment to Fort Bragg is set for mid-February, after Exercise Kindle Liberty 85.
The rationale for attending the jungle warfare course was best summed up by a serious, anonymous voice in a group of waiting soldiers: "This is the best training weve had in a long time!"