Paras take the plunge to survive
A company of Paratroopers at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, learned to keep themselves alive during an emergency water submersion through water survival training, Nov. 28, at the airbase’s indoor swimming center.
Advise and assist paratroopers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist Brigade), successfully completed all requirements for basic swimmer certification as taught by fellow paratrooper, Sgt. David Westfall.
“While no one wants them to have to use what they learned, they have the skills to save themselves and their fellow paratroopers in a water emergency,” said Westfall.
Westfall emphasized three key concepts: waterproofing, survival swimming, and confidence-building in a water environment, he said.
Paratroopers learned to pack a dry change of clothes inside their rucksacks and to keep them dry through the training.Trainees learned the “travel stroke,” a swimming technique in which the individual uses one arm to stay afloat and the other to move forward. Although slow, the travel stroke requires little energy, an ideal style when sustainability is critical and the swimmer is carrying a heavy load, he said.
Once the trainees mastered the skills in the shallow end, they moved to the deep end to further build confidence to reduce the likelihood of panicking.
Although deserts dominate the Iraqi landscape, several prominent features, including the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and several large lakes makes water survival training a useful skill for soldiers traveling around western Iraq.
By 1st Sgt. James Gillem
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