Marines Sharpen Jungle Survival Skills

Dec 01, 2008 by Marine Corps News

Tyler J. Hlavac

3rd Intelligence Battalion Marines Complete Jungle Warfare Training Center Courses

CAMP GONSALVES, OKINAWA, Japan -  Nineteen Marines from Ground Sensor Platoon, 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, proved that they can survive the jungle when they completed the Jungle Survival skills course Nov. 19, and Jungle Skills course Nov. 21 at Camp Gonsalves.

During the Jungle Warfare Training Center's survival course, the Marines spent their first two days in the classroom learning how to find food and shelter in the jungle. Instructors also taught the Marines how to find water, build a fire and make shelters. Additional training included learning how to catch, skin and clean wild game such as rabbits and chickens.

The survival course culminated with a practical application of the skills they had learned and the added bonus of going 24 hours without eating to teach them about dealing with hunger in the jungle.

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Sgt. David Phillips, a ground sensor operator with Ground Sensor Platoon, said the survival course taught the Marines how to deal with stress and helped them develop an "I can" mindset.

"This course has been a great training experience for us, particularly for our junior Marines," Phillips said. "As ground sensor Marines, our job involves us going out into enemy territory to install information gathering sensors, which could potentially lead to a situation in which we would be stuck out in the jungle alone and have to survive."

After completing the survival course, the Marines immediately tackled the Jungle Skills course. The course consists of a day of classroom training and a day of practical application, and is designed to teach the Marines how to conduct combat operations in the jungle.

The practical application kicked off early Nov. 21 as the Marines ran through the timed endurance course portion of the Jungle Skills course which tests everything the Marines learned in the classroom. The endurance course began with the Marines racing across hasty rope bridges and then rappelling down steep hills. The Marines then swam through underwater culverts and  navigated their way through barbed wire obstacles.

Near the end of the course, the Marines had to carry a simulated casualty on a stretcher made of camouflaged uniform blouses through thick mud and up steep hills. The Marines finished the course in four hours and 30 minutes, which is considered a fast time, especially since the Marines completed both the survival and skills classes back to back, which no unit has done before.

"They had a really great time out there," said 1st Lt. Mark Patridge, assistant director for the JWTC. "Considering these Marines had done the survival course and gone without food days prior, we had expected them to finish in about six hours, as most units who do the course normally finish within a five to six hour mark. They had the guts to finish this course strongly."

The Marines attributed their quick finish to a strong sense of camaraderie and the number of junior Marines within the unit who stepped up and took charge, both of which were the result of training at the JWTC together.

"This training was really great for us as we came together as a unit and learned how to push ourselves," said Lance Cpl. Caleb Armstrong, a ground sensor operator who also functioned as a unit team leader during the training. "We got rained on a lot, were constantly cold and went without food, but no one in the unit argued or fought. This was a great morale builder for us and we are definitely going to come out here again in the future and beat our course time."

The two courses are offered by the 3rd Marine Division's JWTC as a way of teaching service members not only the tactics of jungle fighting, but how to survive in the jungle if they are ever lost or separated from their unit.