U.S. and Serbian paratroopers engaged in joint training that consisted of two parts: survival training June 6-12 on the Mali Jastrebac and Radan mountains, and mountaineering training June 15-23 at the Jelasnicka gorge and on the Stol Mountain.
The American paratroopers from the United States Army Europe 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, joined the Serbian Armed Force (SAF) 63rd battalion’s regular training and were given an opportunity to try their hand at some routine SAF training activities.
The survival training included collecting food from nature, food preparation and preservation, water purification, and first aid. The training entailed preparing turtle soup, eating ant larvae, studying a number of mushroom varieties in order to be able to tell which were edible, and several other opportunities to ingest a wide range of indigenous bugs.
The US and Serbian paratroopers practiced various forms of summer mountaineering, rappelling techniques, rescue operations undertaken in inaccessible terrains, and first aid in mountaineering and rescue operations during the mountaineering training.
“We’ve achieved a lot by this training,” said, Col. Miroljub Cupic, head of the SAF Special Brigade Command. “It was delivered by experienced trainers who were trained both here and abroad. Interpersonal relations were fantastic, but that’s no surprise. Paratroopers are a species of their own; irrespective of national and language barriers, they never fail to find common ground and act like one.”
This was mirrored by the US team commander Lt. Micah Linderman. “The training has been excellent. We’ve learned a lot. The survival part of the training has been our first experience of the kind, as a result of which we’ve now acquired some very useful skills,” he said. “For example, we’ve learned how to differentiate between edible and poisonous plants. Some of our team have never rappelled before and those who have refreshed their knowledge. We all collected food together, socialized a lot and now we’ve become firm friends with our Serbian colleagues. This is one of the best training courses we’ve ever been on and Serbia is certainly one of the most beautiful countries we’ve visited so far. And we’ve been around a lot!’
This event is part the two countries’ military-to-military cooperation and is the first training activity undertaken jointly by the American and Serbian paratroopers. Further cooperation between the two forces is planned in the months to come, both operationally (joint paratroop training in Nis and Germany) and on the command level (joint activities related to decision-making processes).