News: Thai soldiers teach U.S. Soldiers jungle survival
Story by 1st Lt. Jamie Delk
FORT SURASEE, Thailand — "You have to think you will survive," said Master Sgt. Samraeung Kachanton, the Thai Army lead instructor for jungle survival training at Fort Surasee, Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold 2010.
Cobra Gold is an annual joint-training exercise between the United States, Thai, Japanese, Singaporean, Indonesian and Republic of Korea forces, as an opportunity to cross-train and share lessons learned. The 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, South Carolina National Guard participated with U.S. Marines during the operation held Feb. 1 — 10.
The S.C. Guard members received unique jungle survival training as part of the operation, as these skills are critical to the Thai army.
Kachanton and his instructors covered everything from which plants were edible and which were not; how to use the sun, moon, stars and plants as a compass; and how to start a fire with magnesium strips, a magnifying glass or rocks.
"I like getting out with the Thai and working with them. They're very friendly people," said Pfc. Matthew Baumgartner, B Company, 4-118th of North Charleston, S.C.
The Thai instructors also showed and demonstrated numerous traps for fish, shrimp, frog and eel.
For many S.C. National Guard members, the training provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to taste different things which would sustain them while survivng in the jungle. Insects such as cockroaches, slugs and grasshoppers were passed around in a large bamboo branch for the Soldiers to eat. They were shown how to cook rice in the jungle and treated to a sample. Finally, a cow, chicken, snake and frog were prepared and cooked for the students.
"There are 180 types of snakes in Thailand, of which seven are poisonous," said Kachanton.
The highlight was when the S.C. Guard members were shown how to catch, skin and cook snakes, which included showing a variety of live snakes - some being poisonous.
"I learned a lot of things about living off the land with different foods, roots and trees. It was very educational," said Sgt. 1st Class Reginald McNeil, A Company, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment.
"This is what our Soldiers pictured initially when we learned we were coming to Thailand," said Capt. Brian Pinson, A Company commander, 4-118th. "This was outstanding training. It brought home the reality to the situation of being over here and learning how to survive in their environment."