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Jungle Warfare training tests mettle of Marines, sailors

US Marine Corps News

By Pfc. Codey Underwood, Marine Corps Bases Japan

CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa -- Wet feet, bugs swarming and bushes so thick one can barely see through them are only some of the many difficulties the jungle environment brings to the battlefield.

At the only jungle warfare training center in the Department of Defense, located in northern Okinawa, service members learned a variety of combat techniques unique to a jungle environment.

Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40, 31st Seabee Readiness Group, conducted an eight-day jungle training package April 1-8 at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves, where they were taught basic infantry tactics while in the jungle.

“The Marines and sailors who are out here don’t have a combat military occupational specialty, so when they come out here they have to go back to the basics,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Zuniga, a JWTC instructor, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “We help them out and guide them along the way, but most of the leadership is conducted by the assigned squad and fire team leaders.”

The squad leaders and fire team leaders were mostly comprised of senior Marines and sailors, and many times the leaders had to test themselves and their ability to move their troops.

“As the squad leader, I think the biggest thing that we had to focus on was the squad integrity,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan J. Coreson, religious programs specialist with CLR-37. “We all had a job to do in the mission and when we got in there, the fire team leaders took charge and operated as they should have.”

Unlike training for a physical fitness test, the jungle warfare training consisted of the service members carrying heavy packs and weapons while trekking through dense jungle terrain and steep hills.

“The most challenging part of this training is the physical aspect of it,” said Lance Cpl. Caitlin M. Carnella, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with the regiment. “I am good at physical training, but being in the field is much different than my regular training.”

The Marines and sailors showed a lot of improvement during the training, overcoming some difficult obstacles, according to Coreson.

“Although our instructors informed us that we are doing well, we still have things that we need to work on,” said Carnella. “As a team, we struggled to communicate with each other and keep quiet at the same time through the thick trees.”

Even though the training tested the participants’ mettle, it was worth it, according to Carnella.

“I highly recommend for other units to take advantage of this unique training center,” she said. “As long as you are able to keep a positive attitude you will learn a lot about jungle operations and have fun at the same time.”

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