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Military

Marines descend through jungle warfare training

US Marine Corps News

4/6/2012
By Lance Cpl. Erik S. Brooks Jr., Marine Corps Bases Japan

CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa -- "Marine on rappel!” “Marine on belay!” These shouts rang throughout the hills as Marines prepared to descend the sheer drop off. Using their feet against the rock wall and climbing rope, the Marines rappelled one-by-one off the cliff to the bottom.

More than 60 Marines with various units within Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, performed fast rappelling, hasty rappelling and crossed a man-made bridge at the Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonsalves April 2.

“The Marines are currently completing a seven-day basic jungle warfare training (package),” said Staff Sgt. Ryan W. Meyer, a motor transport operations chief with CLR-37. “Rappelling was the first exercise we completed (that day).”

Marines must practice rappelling because there may be a situation during a combat deployment where rappelling could make the difference between staying alive and safe or getting hurt, said Meyer.

The Marines began the day with classes outlining knot-tying techniques.

“We taught the Marines four different knots they would need to use,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Zungia, an instructor at JWTC. “Each knot serves a different purpose.”

The first knot the Marines learned was the square knot, which is the most common knot used to secure rope around an object. The second knot taught was the around-body knot, which is used when crossing a man-made bridge. Connected to that knot is the figure-eight knot.

“The figure-eight knot allows Marines to use a carabineer to clip onto the knot and safety line when crossing obstacles,” said Zungia.

The final knot learned was the military rappel seat, which serves as a makeshift harness.

“The rope is tied around the waist then looped through the legs to create the harness,” said Zungia. “The carabineer is then connected to the front, and the Marine is ready to rappel.”

After mastering the knots, the Marines used their skills to rappel safely down the 70-foot cliff while performing stopping maneuvers.

“As the Marines (descended) they performed three controlled stops,” said Zungia.

The Marines were taught the “3 o’clock method,” where the rope flows freely, allowing them to start and stop while fast rappelling down the cliff. The method gets its name because the Marine puts their brake hand in the 3 o’clock position, or horizontally out to the right of their body.

They also learned the “6 o’clock method,” which allows them to rappel faster while still maintaining control. Using this method, the Marine moves the brake hand to the 6 o’clock position, or straight down, to tighten the ropes and stop.

“To have a controlled descent, the Marine can’t hold the rope too tight,” said Zungia. “It not only causes rope burn, but it also creates a bumpy ride down.”

After each Marine practiced fast rappelling, they transitioned into hasty rappelling, which is an improvised method used to descend moderate slopes without the use of carabiners.

“Hasty rappelling is difficult for some because they underestimate the hill,” said Zungia. “The hill is steeper than they expect, and they try to go too fast.”

To come to a stop while hasty rappelling, they must bring the rope to their chest, creating friction and stopping them, according to Meyer.

The final exercise involved the Marines crossing a man-made, rope bridge.

To maneuver the bridge, the Marines used the around-body knot, requiring them to hook onto the safety line and walk across the thin bridge foot-over-foot.

“The man bridge can be set up during operations to overcome obstacles such as valleys,” said Zungia.

Most of the rappelling training is not new for the Marines, but it takes some time to refresh their skills.

“This was a chance for the Marines to keep their skills sharp,” said Meyer. “The Marines learned individually to overcome their sense of fear, and trust in the skills they had been taught.”



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