WO2 Oldenburg teaching Jungle Ops. *Photo supplied
WO2 Oldenburg teaching Jungle Ops. *Photo supplied
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 2: Bermuda’s part-time army has been bombarded by rain in the first few days of their two-week training exercise in the mountains of Jamaica.

More than 100 soldiers are in the jungle-covered Blue Mountains area battling torrential rain as well as the testing terrain.

The Rio Grande River and waterways, where the soldiers are mostly based, have been swollen by downpours, adding to the risk.

But Regiment training officer Major Julian Wheddon said: “We are making appropriate adjustments to ensure the safety of our guys.

Risk

“However, this is the army and we are risk-aware, not risk-averse.”

Despite the weather, soldiers have been taught how to cross rivers by lashing their bergans — rucksacks — together to make a raft.

Maj Wheddon, a British Army veteran of Bosnia, Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Afghanistan, added: “No matter where you’re operating, the environment can impact your unit more than anything else.

“They have been trained and equipped to operate in this environment, so it’s now up to them to demonstrate their ability.”

The troops, who left Bermuda on Saturday for Exercise Rum Runner, are in the early stages of acclimatization, working on jungle survival and operations and shooting.

They will start their field exercises today and then take part in Portland Patrol — adventurous training, including abseiling, orienteering and medical evacuation training.

Skills

The Regiment’s Assault Pioneers — specialist engineers — are working in the local community to refurbish a run-down hospital building in Portland Parish.

Jungle experts from the Jamaican Defence Force have been instructing the troops on how to build bivouacs using bamboo and foliage and living off the land.

Conscripted private Dujon Edness said: “I didn’t want to join up — I thought it was just going to be like playing video games.

“But they teach you so much more, they bring all sorts of skills together.”

UK Sergeant Major Fred Oldenburg, the training wing Warrant Officer, is a jungle warfare expert and has taken a major role in preparing the troops with tips on kit, waterproofing personal effects and survival.