FORT MAGSAYSAY, PHILIPPINES ( Lance Cpl. Dominguez) – The cobra hissed and flailed violently as Technical Sgt. Riden A. Dumalig, an instructor with Philippine Army Special Forces, demonstrated to American soldiers how to prepare it for nourishing themselves in a jungle environment, should the need arise.
This was just one of the lessons learned by more than 60 soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 7th Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, as they participated in a jungle survival training course as part of exercise Balikatan 2014, in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines, May 4.
Instructors from Philippine Army Special Forces taught the soldiers jungle survival fundamentals, such as trapping, foraging, nutrition and preparing animals and plants for consumption. Among the resources used for survival were coconuts, herbs, wild goats, fish, chickens and even snakes.
The training was conducted during Balikatan, which is an annual bilateral exercise between the United States and the Philippines, designed to foster cooperation and interoperability between the two nations’ armed forces through training as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief projects.
“It’s important that soldiers are able to survive off the land sustain themselves, especially in environments where there’s not much opportunities for resupply,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Risher, officer-in-charge with 3rd Battalion, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th ID. “If we can feed ourselves out there, then we can last longer and fight harder.”
The unique training provided the soldiers with valuable knowledge and skills from subject matter experts who have had decades of experience in their field.
“For me, the hands-on instruction we’re getting from the Philippine Special Forces is the best part of the training,” said Risher, of Cincinatti. “This is valuable training that we can’t get anywhere else. This is especially valuable at a time when we’re moving out of Iraq and Afghanistan into other environments, and it allows us to be more prepared for conflicts in the Pacific or anywhere there’s a jungle environment.”
Furthermore, the event provided the U.S. soldiers with opportunities to build rapport and camaraderie with the Philippine Special Forces instructors, as they shared not only food, but also stories and experiences from Afghanistan to the Southern Philippines.
“I like training and interacting with the American soldiers,” said Dumalig. “It’s a good learning experience for both parties, and I feel that we are teaching them valuable knowledge that will help them when they conduct operations in the jungle.”
Units with the 25th Infantry Division will participate in BK14, conducting bilateral training exercises with their Philippine counterparts from May 5 – 15.