Editor’s Note: SOFREP would like to offer military writer Christian P. Martin a warm welcome and many thanks for submitting this piece to our site. We hope to see plenty more of his work in the future. — GDM


Between 2001 and 2021, the Global War on Terror (GWOT) saw the U.S. military preoccupied with major combat operations in Iraq, with a focus on urban warfare, and Afghanistan, with its rugged mountainous terrain, isolated forward operating bases, and routine patrols. By 2018, with the release of the National Defense Strategy, the focus was firmly on competition with and deterrence of America’s adversaries, namely Russia, but primarily China.

The Communist Party of China is wholly focused on dominating Asia and turning its regional neighbors into its vassals. Two of the greatest friction points in the region, which have the possibility to draw the U.S. into a large-scale war, are the situations with Taiwan and the Philippines. If China invaded Taiwan for unification or launched a punitive naval strike against the Philippines to assert its baseless maritime claims, the U.S. would be compelled to defend both states.

One aspect of the preparations being made for a confrontation with the armed forces of China is a renewed focus on Jungle Warfare training for both the Army and Marine Corps. This training will be essential for containing and, if need be, engaging in combat operations with any forward-deployed elements of the Chinese military.

An Historic View of U.S. Military Operations in the Tropics and Jungle Warfare

To many U.S. military personnel, the jungle may conjure up images of a dark, humid, foreboding, and even mysterious environment, full of both picturesque beauty and lurking natural dangers. This would be logical as most of our warfighters hail from large and small towns across America, a world away from the stifling equatorial jungles where they may be called to operate.

Despite a dearth of recent large-scale operational deployments to such regions, the U.S. military has a solid foundation of combat or security operations in tropical or jungle environments. Between 1814 and 1933, U.S. Marines and Army personnel were deployed approximately 39 times to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean islands (Torreon & Plagakis, 2023). These deployments were undertaken to protect U.S. interests, property, or expatriates during various insurrections.

Preparatory Training for the Pacific Theater

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army and the Marines again found themselves deployed to the jungles, this time in the Pacific islands. The Marine and Army units operating in the Pacific Theater of Operations were tasked with engaging and neutralizing the entrenched Imperial Japanese ground forces. An example of the intense preparation prior to combat operations is exemplified by the Ninth Marine Regiment in late January 1943. Ahead of their deployment to the Solomon Islands, specifically Guadalcanal and Bougainville, the Ninth Marine Regiment steamed to New Zealand for training exercises. Once in Aukland, the Ninth Marines engaged in “… jungle warfare training, several 60-mile hikes…further jungle conditioning and patrol work to ready its men for the fighting to come” (Strobridge, 1967, p. 3).