The small group of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry went thru a 10-day course in late May to hone their jungle skills from their Ghana allies. The training incorporates counter-insurgency training in their curriculum.
More than 55 U.S. soldiers were challenged to survive in the harsh Ghanaian jungle during the ten-day course. The Ghanaian instructors equipped the students with practical knowledge specific to the local terrain and environment.
“How to adapt to jungle training is very difficult for them because their type of jungle in the U.S. is very different from the type of jungle that we have,” Codjoe said. “We have taught patrolling, which is a key to jungle training … [we] also taught them how to fight insurgents in the jungle terrain, how to combat guerilla[s] in jungle terrain, raid operations and attack on enemy camp operations.”
The American soldiers, performing the various squad and platoon level tactics, quickly realized the difficulty in navigating through the jungle and adjusting to the harsh, humid climate.
“We’ve always been prepared for Iraq and Afghanistan and desert environments, and even the mountainous environments, so this is like nothing we’ve dealt with before,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Hugh Smith, Delta Company’s platoon leader.
According to Ghanaian Sgt. Michael Agyemang, the school’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, the U.S. soldiers, were determined to soak up knowledge from the expert jungle instructors. “It’s been a fast learning experience between me and the students; they are just fast. Anything you tell them, they just grab it at once,” he said.
A sign at the school reading: The Jungle is Neutral, was explained as the jungle takes no sides; it treats everyone within it the same way. Smith said the jungle training is beneficial.
“I think it’s definitely enhanced readiness,” he said. “I think coming to a different environment — a different terrain — that we’ve never really dealt with before and learning the tactics, learning how to move, learning how to navigate through the jungle has very much helped us in our readiness.”
U.S. soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment provide security during United Accord 2017 at the Jungle Warfare School at Achiase military base in Akim Oda, Ghana, May 26, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Chaney
Navigating the dense vegetation and uneven ground, as well as traversing waist-deep ponds and crossing unstable improvised bridges while watching for hidden dangerous wildlife challenged the American soldiers.
With US troops facing desert and mountainous conditions in the on-going wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, this training was a step in a different direction from the norm. It opened their eyes to another kind of fighting where the combat is much closer and the conditions very different.
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Photo courtesy US Army