Pacific’s senior enlisted leaders see value of Lightning Academy

| October 16, 2015 | 0 Comments
Sr. Master Sgt. Romeo Austria, Assistant Formed Forces of the Philippines Sergeant Major, observes a tube used for water purification during a recent Senior Enlisted Leaders visit at the Lightning Academy Jungle Operation Training Course Sept. 30. The visit was supporting the U.S. Pacific Command Chiefs of Defense Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference, and was meant to bolster support and understanding of how the 25th Infantry Division trains their noncommissioned officers. (photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th ID Public Affairs Office)

Senior Master Sgt. Romeo Austria, Assistant Formed Forces of the Philippines Sergeant Major, observes a tube used for water purification during a recent Senior Enlisted Leaders visit at the Lightning Academy Jungle Operation Training Course, Sept. 30. The visit was supporting the U.S. Pacific Command Chiefs of Defense Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference, and was meant to bolster support and understanding of how the 25th Infantry Division trains their noncommissioned officers. (photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Master Sgt. Pete Mayes
25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — According to 1st Sgt. Glen DeMarcus, training Soldiers in the ways of jungle warfare helps prepare them for surviving in any and all environments.

“What you learn here can be applied to anywhere,” said the senior enlisted noncommissioned officer in charge of the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy to a group of senior enlisted leaders (SEL) from neighboring Pacific countries during a recent joint visit.

Approximately nine SELs from around the region visited the academy as part of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) annual Chiefs of Defense SEL Conference. The visit was intended to serve as a means of bolstering their longstanding relationship with their Pacific partners, as well as learning how the academy develops and fosters NCOs.

Senior enlisted leaders receive training. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Senior enlisted leaders receive training. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

“The 25th Infantry Division is committed to strengthening our ties with our partner countries through both training here at Schofield Barracks and during Pacific Pathways,” said Division Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Brzak.

Brzak’s comments were an assessment also shared by other senior leaders.

“It’s as important as any other training we will conduct because of our area of responsibility,” said Regimental Sgt. Maj. of the Australian Army Warrant Officer Donald Spinks. “Jungle training is a critical element that we need to have in order to fight and win in this environment.”

“Here we have an opportunity to bring senior leaders from other parts of the region to observe our training here at the Division firsthand,” said PACOM SEL Navy Fleet Command Master Chief Mark Rudes. “It’s important for us to have schools like this and to be able to offer this type of training to our international partners. We have to be able to have trust in each other, and that trust will determine how effective we are when responding to a crisis.”

The academy houses the Division’s Jungle Operation Training Course, where Soldiers learn the intricacies of living in the most austere of environments. It’s almost like a lost art form, as today’s Soldiers, since 9/11, have primarily trained for desert and mountain warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The SELs received a briefing about the importance of jungle operations and a demonstration on how to extract an injured Soldier from a ravine, as well as a quick tour of “Survival Village,” which featured how Soldiers would provide shelter, warmth, food and water in the jungle.

The JOTC was born out of the Hawaii-based 25th ID’s regional alignment with PACOM and the Defense Department’s rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. The ability to operate in the jungle is important not only for troops aligned with PACOM, but also potentially for those working in Africa and other places around the world.

DeMarcus said jungle training took a back seat during the past 10-plus years of training for deployments to the Middle East, but has since been revitalized as the Army pivots its attention back to the Pacific.

Many of the Pacific partners conduct jungle training in their own countries. DeMarcus said the relationships that are being established between the Division and those countries, and the ability to offer a different type of training terrain, is crucial in partnership building.

“It’s about compatibility and how we can work together,” DeMarcus said. “Although our systems are not the same, we find ways to remain effective through adaptability and initiative.

Pacific Pathways was an example he used to describe compatibility.

“It’s essential to our relationships with our foreign partners that we continue to train together and often. The benefits from this far outweigh the costs associated,” DeMarcus said.

Brzak agreed, adding that the JOTC demonstrates the Division’s commitment to the Pacific region.

“First, the Lightning Academy provides a great opportunity for Soldier and leader development here at home station, at a low cost and minimal time away from their units,” he said. “Second, our regional partners have an open invitation to send their Soldiers through any of our courses and that is reciprocated by us sending our Solders and instructors throughout the Pacific to attend their schools and courses.

“This allows them to bring back tactics, techniques and procedures that we can implement into our courses to make them better and more relevant for the Pacific operating environment,” Brzak explained.

(Editor’s note: Mayes is the Public Affairs/Strategic Communications senior NCO for 25th ID Information Operations.) 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Leadership, News, Training

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *