When I was at 2d Recon Bn, I had the opportunity to attend the French Amphibious Commando Course in Martinique. The course is only three weeks long, but let me tell you … it’s a ball busting three weeks. You train on a little bit of everything jammed into that short course – hand-to-hand, rope work, boat work, and raids and ambushes.

French Amphibious Commando Course

Just a side note, the pictures are not of our class at the course, but they’re the only ones I could find online.

I have to admit that some of the details and timelines may be a bit off; I went to the course over 15 years ago. The first two plus weeks of the course are the training phase. First off, we did our water training and obstacle course. The water o-course was kind of like a jungle gym set in the water. It was tough, but nothing too crazy. The most memorable part of the training phase was by far the obstacle course throughout the mangrove trees. If you’re not familiar with mangroves, they’re basically trees with exposed root systems in coastal swamps. The course was through the mangrove roots and the mud we crawled, humped and “swam” through was so thick you actually had to wipe it off of your face in order see. And, to make things even better, it was full of huge crabs and smelled like garbage.

Intertwined among the obstacle courses was some hand-to-hand training. I have to say that most of the hand to hand was pretty crazy and very different from what we were used to. The coolest thing out of their fighting skills was getting trained on the effective use of the garrote. The garrote is basically a piece of wire used to silently take out an enemy. Cool stuff that we never had been introduced to back stateside.