From learning how to board a seaborne vessel from a defender-class patrol boat to lesson in jungle survival and patrol, the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program Cadets in Dominica gained invaluable knowledge and unforgettable experiences as they trained with the different sections of the Dominica Police Force.
With the Coast Guard, Cadets participated in man-overboard drills, search and rescue scenarios, and vessel-to-vessel boarding. Using a combination of mathematics, sea navigation, and accurate timing, Cadets took the wheel to look for life preserver buoys representing people lost in the open seas. We also practiced quick, life-saving maneuvers to recover personnel who have fallen overboard, using what the Coast Guard refers to as the “Williamson Turn”. Later we conducted mock boarding missions similar to those done to ships that enter Dominica’s territorial waters. After mastering these three maritime exercises, we joined two Dominican master swimmers in the ocean to practice our rescue swimming techniques and strokes.
After training with the Coast Guard, we began training with the Special Service Unit (SSU), a specially trained paramilitary organization within the Dominican Police Force. Starting in the early morning, the combined unit of Cadets and SSU operators began a 10-mile road march, traversing the hilly terrain along the island coast. The 83 degree heat and 94 percent humidity did little to stop the morale of American Cadets and Dominican soldiers as they called out cadences to greet the residents of Roseau, the capital of Dominica.
The next portion of training brought us into the vast jungle of Dominica. Joining the SSU for a lesson in jungle survival, the group marched through treacherous terrain under frequent tropical rains and choking humidity. Ascending steep hills and wading through waist high rivers, Cadets and the SSU practiced their patrolling skills. All in all, it was a busy day but we learned a great deal about jungle operations.