Bermuda’s soldiers completed days of gruelling jungle training in Jamaica, and they put what they learned into practice in a final shakeout before a massive final training exercise tomorrow and Wednesday.
Pte Jordan Fubler, a member of the Operational Support Unit [OSU] will today celebrate his 20th birthday in the mud and mosquitoes of the Jamaican jungle.
RBR Lt Travis Stevens explains jungle tactics to a group of soldiers from his platoon.
But he said, “This is a great experience and I’d rather be here – I like being in the field and having Jamaican Defence Force helicopters flying over. I feel like I’m really in it.
“The training has inspired me to go further. Instead of just giving up, you just keep going.”
Pte Fubler, a gas station tyre technician from Warwick added, “It was interesting learning new skills and I like it here – it’s been better than I thought it would be.”
The RBR soldiers learned fieldcraft and the art of jungle warfare from Jamaican Defence Force [JDF] and British Army expert instructors.
They were taught how to live off the land, trapping, preparing and cooking animals in the wild, building shelters out of bamboo poles and branches and how to collect water using what is available in the jungle.
The tough training prepares troops for its role as a Caribbean regional ‘blue light’ resource in the event they are needed overseas for hurricanes or other natural disasters.
JDF jungle warfare instructor Corporal Arlie McKenzie said, “They’ve all done quite well and they’ve absorbed what was taught to them quickly.
RBR soldiers scan a clearing as part of their jungle training in Jamaica.
“They are enthused – I’ve been teaching them jungle patrolling and signals and how to survive in the jungle. It’s not what they’re used to, but they have coped well.”
JDF Sergeant Roan Ellis, who has trained with the elite French Foreign Legion in jungle warfare, added, “They can’t do this kind of training back in Bermuda.
“On a scale of one to 10, they’re a seven – that’s definitely good. And they’ll get better.”
RBR Lance Corporal Dante Durham, 21, a signaller with the OSU, said, “I like the jungle. It’s been humid and there’s a lot of bugs, but it’s made us focus on survival and taking note of your surroundings.
“I enjoyed survival skills training – it might not seem like it, but it teaches you resilience and that’s all stuff you can take back home to your civilian life.”
The 21-year-old chef at new restaurant FryDays in Hamilton, added, “It’s also taught us a lot about teamwork – you really have to look out for each other in that environment.”
L/Cpl Chris Hill, second in command of an A Company platoon, said his group, many of them the RBR’s most recent recruits, had performed well in tough conditions.
[Left to Right] JDF Jungle warfare expert Sgt Roan Ellis shows off a shelter made out of branches and leaves to Governor George Fergusson, Junior National Security Minister Sen. Jeff Baron and retired Lt Col David Gibbons, chairman of the Defence Board.
The 25-year-old from Devonshire, who works in Baptiste hardware store in Warwick, added, “The heat is taking a toll, but they’re coping with it.
“The new recruits are doing pretty well and they’ve learned a lot about relying on each other. If we ever have to deploy to the Caribbean on disaster relief, we’re ready for anything that’s thrown at us.”
Pte Leeann Mederios, the only woman soldier in the OSU contingent in Jamaica, said, “I’ve been to Jamaica on vacation, but being with the Regiment in the field is very different. It’s very hot and infested with mosquitoes.
“I’ve learned to really appreciate the natural resources available to us. It’s a good life experience to take home. We wouldn’t get all this back in Bermuda.”
The 23-year-old baker from Warwick added, “It’s made me a stronger person. I will go home feeling more accomplished.”