MIT Cadets Participate in Combat Water Survival Training

by CadeT Kyle Hiatt

On the morning of Friday, February 23 close to 50 cadets of the Paul Revere Army ROTC Battalion based at MIT took part in their annual Combat Water Survival Training. While many of their fellow classmates were sleeping in and getting ready for the weekend, these student-soldiers were honing their skills of adapting their combat uniforms and equipment to an aquatic environment at the Zesiger Center at MIT. This training is vital under the current operating environment due to the high incidence of water-related casualties among soldiers deployed abroad. Swimming and treading water in a bathing suit is one thing; however, at the end of the morning many cadets could attest to the challenges posed by swimming in full combat uniform and equipment.

During the first hour of training cadets cycled through three different events that tested different water-borne skills and abilities. First, the cadets were required to swim 15 meters while holding a rifle above the water. Next, in the dawn-and-ditch event, cadets jumped into the pool with a load bearing equipment (LBE) harness and rifle and were required to remove all equipment before resurfacing. This event was especially important because the most common incidence of drowning occurs when soldiers who are submerged in water are unable to stay afloat due to the weight of their equipment. Lastly, as a test of confidence, blindfolded cadets jumped off of a 3 meter high diving platform into the pool. Appropriately during this event, you were likely to hear various motivated slogans from the cadets as they made their plunge. No Fear Paul Revere! Not surprisingly, every cadet was able to accomplish each task.

The second hour of training was devoted to drown-proofing training. The cadets treaded water for close to half an hour while being given instruction on how to use their uniforms as floatation devices. By tying together the legs of a pair of Battle Dress Uniform trousers and blowing into them, the cadets found that treading water for prolonged periods of time can quite literally become a laid-back experience.

It was certainly a morning well spent for the cadets of the Paul Revere Battalion. As is often the case, practical training was conducted in an exciting and engaging way resulting in a fun morning had by all. While undoubtedly rudely awakened by their alarms well before the sun was up, the cadets departed from training with smiles on their faces as they made the journey back to their schools and likely into their beds.