Lightning Academy impresses USSOCOM Commander

| December 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
1st Lt. Carlos Velez (right) briefs United States Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel on the jungle terrain Soldiers train on at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy. Votel recently visited the Division to learn more about how Soldiers train for the jungle environment (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

1st Lt. Carlos Velez (right) briefs United States Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel on the jungle terrain Soldiers train on at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy. Votel recently visited the Division to learn more about how Soldiers train for the jungle environment (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Master Sgt. Pete Mayes
Information Operations 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — The 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy is getting back to Army basics in how they conduct training for their Soldiers, according to the Commander of United States Special Operations Command.

USSOCOM Commander Gen. Joseph Votel made his remarks during a recent visit to the island Dec. 10 to learn more about the Division’s role in the Pacific region.

He particularly praised the Academy’s Jungle Operations Training Course as they conducted a Jungle in Action Demonstration that highlighted the Soldiers’ proficiency in operating successfully in a jungle environment.  According to GEN Votel this is crucial skill set for operations in the Pacific.

“They are using innovative training and techniques that work and don’t need to be high tech,” Votel said.

Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn showcased the Academy to Votel as part of his discussions on interoperability, training opportunities with joint services and strategic military partners in the region, and force protection.

Votel also had an opportunity to meet with three female Soldiers who are taking part in the Pre-Ranger female screening. The Soldiers – 1st Lt. Sara Roger, Sgt. Brittany Bradford, and Sgt, Amanda Carrasco- are vying to be selected as candidates for the Ranger Training Assessment Course at Fort Benning, Ga.

The Soldiers attested that successfully navigating pre-Ranger screening involved refreshing on perishable tactical skills and just getting through the daily grind of challenging training.

“The physical training as well as the mental training is key. It’s basically mind over matter,” said Carrasco, who is assigned to 2-27th Inf. Regt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th infantry Division.

Roger, a fires support officer with 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, said it is important to Soldiers to study up on their maneuver tactics. “It’s vital, especially if you’re not an infantryman,” she said.

Votel also spoke with Soldiers from Fort Benning’s 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, who were taking part in the JOTC Phase One Course, to get their assessment of the training.

“The environment definitely dictates what you bring out here,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Laleman, 3rd. Bn., 75th Ranger Regt.

Laleman also highlighted the differences in training for jungle environments as opposed to the mountains of Afghanistan.

“We’re used to operating in a more open environment, but here you have to get used to moving in a different formation in the woods,” he said. “Here you have to always be on your toes.”

The Division’s Jungle Operations Training Course is the only one of its kind in the Army that focuses on preparing Soldiers for the rigors of surviving harsh jungle environments, primarily in the Asia-Pacific, and it supports the Department of Defense’s rebalance in the Pacific Command.

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