The Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa Japan had to be one of my favorite deployments. Learning how to operate and survive in a jungle environment is vastly different than a desert or woodland environment. There are also threats native to the jungle that you must be aware of. I remember attending a training session and sitting on the table in front of the class were several glass jars with various snakes in them (mostly venomous). As the glass jars were passed around the instructors said these are some of the threats to be aware of as we conduct our training. Because of the dense tropical like environment, gear and tactics need to change in order to be effective and survive.
Navigation becomes exponentially tougher when working under a double canopy jungle. GPS units will not be able to locate satellites due to the canopy which means you must be confident at using a map and compass. A machete or kukri becomes more useful than smaller belt knives to allow you to cut through the thick vegetation, dispatch snakes for food, and for other various survival tasks. As silly as it seems, having a whistle on your person can be a life saver (We had OD green tactical whistles). During a night time patrol we had one of our guys step out onto the lower canopy thinking it was the ground and fell quite a ways. The only way we could locate him was to follow the sound he was making with his whistle. Speaking of night time ops in the jungle; having a good pair of leather gloves is a must. Some of the plants and vegetation have extremely sharp edges on them as the guy who fell came to realize very quickly as he was trying to grab onto things to stop his fall.
Another stupid piece of Marine Corps gear to ditch during jungle training is the boot blouses. All those accomplish is holding water inside your pant legs. Depending on your units SOP you may or may not be able to go without these. Lastly, we learned quickly how important it was to have multiple pairs of socks to change into. If you don’t attempt to keep your feet dry and taken care of consider yourself a casualty of the jungle.
Featured image courtesy of marines.mil
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