LATHAM, N.Y–New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Thomas Carpenter, an infantry Soldier assigned to Headquarters Company of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, is heading to Brazil for six weeks of training at the Brazil Army Jungle Warfare Training Center in Manaus, Brazil.
Carpenter, from Prospect, N.Y., located just north of Utica; will take part in the 2019 Jungle Operations International Course.
The course, which Brazil offers to Soldiers from around the world, officially begins on October 20 and wraps up on November 30.
The physically demanding course involves learning to survive in a jungle environment, learning the combat skills Soldiers need to operate in the jungle, and then putting it all together in realistic exercises.
It is a shortened version of the 12-week course the Centro de Instrucao de Guerra na Selva—Portuguese for Jungle Warfare Training School—teaches its own Soldiers twice a year.
Before he gets to that training, Carpenter will be expected to tread water while wearing their uniform, demonstrate their proficiency with a map and compass, run six miles in 60 minutes, disarm an opponent in hand-to-hand combat, and swim 400 meters while in uniform.
He will also have to demonstrate basic knowledge about helicopter operations, river crossings, intelligence collection, tracking techniques and combat first aid.
The New York Army National Guard was invited to participate in jungle school’s international course, which is offered once each year, because of a recently approved partnership agreement with the Brazilian military.
In March, 2019, Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, inked an agreement with Brazilian Rear Admiral Guilherme Da Silva Costa, formalizing the relationship through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
Under this program state National Guard’s train with militaries around the world.
New York Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major David Piwowarski selected Carpenter to attend the course based on the military schools he’s attended and his performance in the field.
“What I did is reach out to all the units in the New York Army National Guard through the brigade sergeants major and I asked for candidates that were physically strong, smart, and could shoot,” Piwowarski said.
“In my opinion we needed tough, strong Soldiers who could endure,” he said.
Carpenter was selected “because he is a consummate professional that has always been willing to accept challenges throughout his military career,” Piwowarski said.
Carpenter has deployed to combat zones twice, he is a graduate of the Army Ranger School and Army Airborne School and competed in the Army’s tough and demanding Army Best Ranger Competition in 2015.
“He brings the right attitude to every task that he is assigned too. Failure for him is never an option,” Piwowarski said.
Carpenter, age 38, is a full-time Guard Soldier who serves as the company training sergeant.
Carpenter, who enlisted in 2006, has served as a full-time National Guard Soldier since 2014.
He’s looking forward to the jungle survival part of the course, Carpenter said.
“It is something that I have never really done and it will be another tool in my tool box,” he explained.
When Soldiers attend these kinds of special schools, it’s vital that they be able to come back to their units and pass those skills on, Carpenter said.
“What good is it if somebody goes to a school if they are just going to use it for a shiny thing on their uniform,” he added.
Carpenter acknowledged that at 38, he might be older than many of those attending the school, but he doesn’t intend to let that slow him down.
“Age is a number. It is what you do with those amount of years that make you that number. I can still run with the young dogs,” Carpenter said.
He is a bit concerned about the swimming requirements for the class, Carpenter said. He can swim, but it is not one of his strengths.
“I am trying hard to grow some gills,” he joked.
Other training exchanges since the New York National Guard commenced its partnership agreement are a visit from Airmen of the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, N.Y. to their counterparts in Rio de Janerio and a visit by Lt. Gen. Achilles Furlan Neto, the Brazilian Army’s operations officer, to New York.
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