New Recruits Learn Underwater Survival Skills

New Recruits Learn Underwater Survival Skills
By: Lauren Keith
WEST FRANKFORT, IL --New recruits from the Army National Guard gathered at the West Frankfort, IL indoor pool.  Not to have fun, but to learn skills that could save their lives, if they head into combat.  Some of these new recruits aren't the best swimmers, but by the end of this training session, soldiers claim the recruits will all know how to survive in underwater combat.
"The more times they go through that stressful situation, the more they may develop a sense of calm, and that's what we're trying to do today," said Commander of the Charlie Recruit Sustainment Company Mark Alessias.
Soldiers learn everything from the basics, like skills you might see in a lifeguarding course, to surviving attacks. The soldiers learn how their packs can help keep them afloat and provide a place to mount their guns. Keep in mind, each of the packs weigh about 20 pounds.
"I'm a pretty decent swimmer. I was on the swim team for two years, but it's different, putting on the BTU's, or the uniforms, and the mock M-16's, when they get wet, they get pretty heavy!" claims David Belfiore, a new recruit from Salem, Illinois.
Army National Guard soldiers claim this type of training is important because these new recruits may have to fight in bodies of water----maybe even in the dark-----and that's why this next exercise may help them conquer the enemy...and their own fears.
"The purpose is to disorient them, basically overcoming two fears--- fear of heights and not exactly knowing where they're at. They get pushed into the water, while they're blindfolded and holding artilleryWe're trying to teach the soldiers to remain calm, relaxed. Most of them will naturally float to the surface, take off their blindfolds and swim to the edge. We're trying to get them to control their fears, and the fear doesn't control them," said Captain Alessias.
"This will benefit you a lot, even if you don't go into the military and it will help you in a real-life situation, say if you are in an accident, where you're not in combat," said William Mocaby, a new recruit from Herrin.
Despite the fact the U.S. military is fighting a war right now in a country dominated by desert---soldiers claim this training will help these recruits in case they're called to missions in other parts of the world.
Besides underwater combat training, the Army National Guard recruits learn other skills like grenade assault, repelling and rope-bridge training.  The National Guard hopes each session prepares recruits for basic training.  The sessions occur one weekend every month.