Royal Thai Marines Teach Jungle Survival to U.S. Counterparts
Story Number: NNS080618-08
Release Date: 6/18/2008 11:30:00 AM
By Lance Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt, Marine Division 1st Infantry Public Affairs
CAMP PRAMAHAJESSADA, Thailand (NNS) -- Royal Thai Marines from Marine Division 1st Infantry Battalion presented a two-hour class on jungle survival to U.S. Marines, June 10, as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2008.
During the course, Thai Marines taught their counterparts the importance of prioritizing their efforts and also taught them how to find fresh water and food. The U.S. Marines also learned how to handle cobras.
The instructors taught survival techniques for the hot, humid conditions of Southeast Asia's vast jungles. The Marines learned how to assess their situation by prioritizing their needs in order to conserve energy in a jungle climate.
"Don't get too excited. Energy is precious in the jungle," the trainer said through a translator, Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1 Weerachai.
After the individual's situation is evaluated and his or her needs prioritized, the first thing to obtain is usually water, the instructor said. Without water, the average human can only live about three days, likely even less in the hot conditions of the jungle, he said.
The instructor said obvious places to find water, such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, are not always safe for drinking because they often contain pollution, bacteria or salt. These sources, he explained, can be made safe for consumption through distillation. Distillation is a method wherein water is boiled to kill bacteria and filter out salt and pollution. Clean water vapor rises to the top of a cool pot, where it then condenses again into liquid.
The Thai Marines also explained how to find water when no obvious sources are available.
"I learned to get water from places I never expected, like cutting apart a banana tree, I never would have done that," said Cpl. Timothy Adamovage, a combat engineer with Combat Assault Company (CAC).
One method they demonstrated involved cutting vines to produce water, a method they explained worked with many other wild plants, many of which contain a large amount of water. The task is to extract it, the instructor said. Using a plastic bag filled with leaves, the Thai Marines were able to produce almost a cup of water by shaking the foliage and collecting the water at the bottom of the bag.
To demonstrate the variety of water-bearing jungle vegetation, the trainer showed the U.S. Marines a 12-foot long table covered with edible leaves, roots, stems, fruit and other jungle plants he had collected.
Cpl. Robert B. Montgomery, a rifleman with CAC, said he was willing to try all the vegetation on the table.
"Some of it was disgusting, some of it was pretty all right," said Cpl. Robert B. Montgomery, a rifleman with CAC. "They just kept handing us stuff left and right."
The Thai hosts also showed their guests how to catch and kill wild game using snares and various other traps made from bamboo and twine. Next, they demonstrated several different ways to start a fire using flint, a bow and stick, a battery, various chemicals and even an M16-powered time fuse.
After the Thai Marines thoroughly explained the different processes of making fire, the trainers focused their guests' attention on some live cobras.
The Thai Marines demonstrated how to handle the snakes from different approaches, including grabbing them from behind and dangling them by the tail in midair, a technique designed to prevent the snakes from wrapping around a handler's arm or biting him.
"It was a thrill, getting to experience a little bit of snake handling," said Cpl. Andrew Carlson, an amphibious assault vehicle crewman with CAC.
After the demonstration, the Marines were taught how to skin and gut a snake. Their hosts then challenged them to drink the snake's blood, telling them that, according to Thai tradition, the person who drinks the blood would be believed to inherit the snake's virility and strength.
Without hesitation, the U.S. Marines accepted the challenge, drinking the cobra's blood straight from the snake.
Cobra handling wrapped up the Thai survival training, leaving both groups of Marines laughing and smiling. As some from the U.S. reviewed the pictures on their digital cameras, others thanked the Thais for the survival tips and expressed how much they enjoyed the training.
CARAT is an annual series of bilateral military exercises between the United States and several Southeast Asia nations designed to promote operational readiness and cooperation.
For more news from Commander Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/clwp/.
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