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Seabees Train for War in the Jungle

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071005-18
Release Date: 10/5/2007 8:02:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Williams, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 Public Affairs

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 took part in a jungle warfare training evolution at the Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) on Okinawa Sept. 27-28.

JWTC is a training camp run exclusively by Marine instructors to build confidence by introducing tough, team-building exercises to every service member that participates. For this particular exercise, the instructors pushed Seabees through a 3.4-mile endurance course.

The course began with a hasty rappel, descending by a fixed rope, down a 40-foot cliff.

“Rapelling down the cliffs was scary but thrilling at first; the more we kept rapelling, the more comfortable it became,” said Engineering Aid Constructionman Gayle St. Michel with NMCB 7.

The Seabees then crossed a deep ravine using a two and three strand bridge, an exercise meant to conquer any fears early on.

The course also included hasty rappels, log obstacles and stream crossings in the jungle. They tackled the Suspension and Traverse Trainer demonstrating their ability to cross a river with a retrievable rope bridge. They were introduced to a 12-foot wall that required the members to lift each other up and over without assistance from ropes or ladder’s.

“To overcome the 12-foot wall, we had four of our strongest members position themselves with two atop the wall and two at the bottom to create a ‘push/pull’ method of moving all of our personnel over the wall,” said Yeoman 2nd Class (SCW/AW) William Weber, an NMCB 7 participant in the course.

Moving closer to the finish line they arrived at the "Pit and Pond," where they low-crawled through muddy trenches and underneath barbed wire obstacles.

However, the most grueling part of course had yet to be revealed to the teams; a 600-meter stretcher carry through (affectionately entitled) “Peanut Butter Mud.”
In some areas the Peanut Butter Mud reached up to four-feet deep.

They were also required to climb up two steep muddy hills to the finish line at the top.

“Even when you are completely exhausted and don’t want to go any further, there is always something that will keep you going,” said St. Michel. “Whether it is a team leader, a team member, or just knowing in my head that I can make it to the end.”

Some may argue that training for war in the jungle doesn’t make sense when the majority of our service members fight an enemy in a desert environment.

According to Marine Capt. Mark George, the JWTC officer in charge, this endurance course is perfect preparation for any battlefield.

“The endurance course is an excellent team building exercise,” said George. “It allows commanders to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their Sailors and Marines. Ultimately, it will provide a good indication of how well they will function under stress and physical exhaustion.”

George continued, “We will continue to train for operations in every climate and place, and the Jungle Warfare Training Center is an excellent resource for our service members to utilize for their training.”



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