The U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lighting) based in Hawaii has a jungle operations training school that prepares its Soldiers for some of the harsh terrain they may encounter when deployed to Pacific Rim countries. The official name is the Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC). For many years the U.S. Army had a jungle operations school located in the Panama Canal Zone in Central America. Members of the 8th Special Forces Group [1] and later, of the 7th Special Forces Group [2] provided personnel as instructors for at this jungle school in Panama. Eventually the Panama jungle school was closed down. [3]

The jungle training school established by the 25th Infantry Division (ID) is located on Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii. It is part of the 25th ID’s ‘Lightning Academy’; the division’s organic schoolhouse. The jungle school was opened in 2013. Many of the cadre who assigned to the JOTC have attended the jungle schools of countries located in the Pacific region such as Australia. In addition, the instructors have observed the training at the 3rd Marine Division’s Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan. The school is two weeks long. Soldiers learn skills such as jungle survival, communication, navigation, waterborne operations, and more. The Soldiers who go through the course become jungle trainers when they return to their units.

There are many countries of the Pacific region with jungle environments. Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and other countries have significant land areas that are jungle. These jungles are located in the interior of countries as well as part of the many island chains found in the Pacific. Operating in this type of terrain requires some specialized training; which the JOTC offers.

In the past few years the U.S. military has tried to pay more attention to the Pacific region. Despite the many other challenges around the world – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and more; the U.S. still is trying to ‘pivot to the Pacific’ – with a rebalance of focus and resources. There are many challenges that Pacific Command (PACOM) and units like the 25h ID need to be ready for – foremost among them is a more aggressive Communist China. The Jungle Ops Training Center is one of many measures the U.S. Army can take to be adequately prepared to fight in the Pacific region.