IAAFA instructor participates in Army Jungle Operations course, brings experience to partner nation students

  • Published
  • By Vanessa R. Adame
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Army Jungle Operations Training Course near Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, is a two-week course designed to prepare joint forces members to survive in a jungle environment. One of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy’s instructors recently attended the highly competitive training Sept. 13-24, along with other enlisted and officer members.

Master Sgt. Ricardo Alonso, International Force Protection flight chief, was one of only five service members outside of the Army's Lightning Academy to be selected for  the training course. When the course ended, only 65 of 96 members remained, with Alonso among them.

“I pushed my body and abilities to a level I never thought possible,” Alonso said. “Every single day was a challenge to keep from being eliminated from the course. It feels amazing to be one of the graduates.”

The course focused on jungle mobility training, waterborne operations, combat tracking, jungle tactics, survival training and situation awareness exercises. As part of the course, members spent six consecutive days in the jungle, navigating the rough terrain while lugging at least 60 pounds of gear needed to operate in combat missions. Students were required to tie 12 critical knots and harnesses to secure rope bridges over rivers and rappel to navigate the elevated terrain throughout the course.

“The jungle was the biggest challenge during the course,” Alonso said. “The tasks and objectives that one needs to accomplish the day to day are difficult to begin with, and when you add the jungle and weather elements in to the equation, the difficulty of the tasks increase immensely.”

The training will help International Force Protection Flight provide better instruction to partner nation students enrolled in IAAFA courses such as Ground Defense Leadership, which develops its lesson plans from the Jungle Operations Training course.

“It’s a reality that the most critical security threats and challenges to our region like narco-drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorist plots are happening in jungle terrains such as the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, considered the world's most dangerous jungle,” said Senior Master Sgt. Alejandro Velez, 837th Training Squadron superintendent. “It’s very important that we become subject matter experts in order to support our partner nation needs and continue being the partner nation of choice.”