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This section is organized into three parts. The first is a packing list. The second is a listing of tracking tips and techniques; the third is a listing of general combat tips that works well in the jungle.

TOPIC: Packing List.

DISCUSSION: Packing lists are a subject of endless debate. About the only item that has total consensus is the maximum weight of the soldier's load, 50 pounds. What follows is a suggested packing list based on the experience of soldiers at the Jungle Operations Training Battalion and units in Vietnam.


The LBE should have the following items:

  • "Butt" pack
  • Insect repellant (Garlic pills)
  • Signal Mirror (one per squad)
  • VS 17 panel
  • Compass (on person)
  • Map (on person)
  • Water purification tablets (two bottles)
  • Survival knife
  • Flashlight
  • Heat tab (Emergency sterilization)
  • Tweezers
  • Compress Bandage (two ea)
  • Cravat (one ea)

The rucksack should contain the following items:

  • T-Shirt (two ea)
  • Socks (three pair)
  • BDU Trousers (one pair)
  • Poncho
  • Mosquito Bar (Bug Net)
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof bags (two ea)
  • Two-quart Canteen
  • Entrenching tool
  • Machete (one/fire team)
  • Weapons cleaning kit with extra CLP
  • IV Kit, compress bandage (one ea), cravat (one ea)
  • Radio battery
  • Personal hygiene items
    • Unscented soap
    • Foot powder
    • Razor blades
  • Three days rations (stripped if MREs)
  • 550 cord, 30-50' (can substitute for sling ropes)
  • Snap Link
  • Sewing kit
  • Zip Loc Bags
  • Trash bags (two ea)
  • Electrical tape (one roll per fire team)

TOPIC: Tracking and The Use of the Human Senses during Jungle Operations.


In the jungle, the three most useful senses of the five senses are smell, touch, and hearing.

SMELL. Your sense of smell can give you advanced warning of the enemy, often well before you see him. British troops in Malaya and Borneo as well as U.S. troops in Vietnam found this to be true.

Cigarette smoke can be detected up to one-quarter of a mile away if the wind conditions are right. You can smell fish, garlic, and other foods being cooked for several hundred meters. You may be able to detect a person who has been using scented soap or eating specific foods from up to 100 meters away, thus discovering an ambush before walking into it.

There are many types of wood used for fuel in the jungle. Some are good for making cooking fires, while others are only burned to repel insects or ward off the night chill in highland jungles. Being able to identify the smell of some of these woods may allow you to determine the purpose and general location of the fire.

For the person who seldom uses scented soap, after-shave lotion, or other such toiletries, it is easy to detect a person using these items at a considerable distance. In some areas of the world, the best way to prevent detection is not to use them. The British discovered this in Malaya. Often they would set an ambush on a known guerrilla trail. The guerrillas would get close to the ambush, then suddenly back-track and disappear into the jungle. Later, during the interrogations of captured guerrillas, they discovered why. Either the point man had smelled soap, nonindigenous food, or insect repellant used by the ambush party.

A good rule to follow is that if the local indigenous population does not use it, you should not use it either.

A final item that has a distinctive odor is explosives. Use surgical gloves to handle explosives when you can. Then put the used gloves in a Zip Loc bag. Always have one squad member who stays upwind of the explosives. He can then check to see if you are detectable at a distance. Also, make sure you package and seal all charges to where the scent of explosives is not detectable at a distance.

TOUCH. You may find yourself having to search buildings, tunnels, or enemy dead at night with no means of illumination or when illumination is unwise due to the tactical situation. To use the sense of touch to identify an object, you must consider four factors: shape, moisture, temperature, and texture.

  • Shape refers to the general outline of the object.
  • Moisture refers to the moisture content of the object. Is it wetter or drier than the immediate surroundings?
  • Temperature is the object's heat in relation to the surrounding environment.
  • Texture is the smoothness or roughness of the object.

By taking the four factors into consideration, you should be able to identify most basic objects. An example might be the searching of a dead enemy. You may feel his trousers and realize that they are moister than his shirt, indicating he crossed water recently. Upon touching his boots, you realize they are moist, covered with mud, and that the tread is well worn. This would confirm the crossing of water and indicate that he was an experienced soldier. The warmth of his body indicates that he was moving rapidly. The shape of the insignia on his collar indicates that he was an officer. All combine to give you a good idea of who he is and what he was doing in the last few hours of his life.

Touch is also useful in detecting trip wires. There are several methods. One is to use your exposed skin to feel for them. Another is to search by holding a very fine branch in front of you. If it strikes anything, you will feel it without triggering the trip wire. Still another is to use a piece of wire with a small weight on one end, hanging down from a stick. Held before you as you walk, it will detect trip wires without triggering them.

HEARING. The sound of a safety catch being released or a bolt slamming home could warn you of an ambush or a sniper. The sudden sound of animals moving or dogs barking may indicate enemy movement. It may also warn the enemy of your movements. However, do not automatically assume that humans caused the disturbance. Many jungles of the world are home to large predators who can spook game or cause dogs to bark.

Similarly, sudden cessation of normal wildlife sounds may indicate passage of the enemy, or an animal's or a bird's detection of you. Thus, it is important to become familiar with the distress and warning cries of birds and wild animals in the area of operation. Also the sound of a man talking, running, or crawling is important to recognize.

When performing reconnaissance, always move cautiously enough to hear sounds made by the enemy before they see you.

Other important sounds that you must be able to recognize are the sound of the striker of a hand grenade and the sound of its handle flying off. Sound can also assist you in determining the range to an explosion or blast.

If you can see the flash of the explosion and can determine the number of seconds from the flash to the time you hear the sound, you can determine the approximate range. Sound travels at approximately 1,100 feet per second, which rounds off to about 400 meters per second. With a little practice, you can learn to determine the range to enemy weapons systems.

Whenever you hear a noise, rotate your body with your hand cupped over your ears. In addition, open your mouth slightly. When the noise is the loudest, you are pointing in its general direction. When there is no wind, air currents generally carry sound downhill at night and uphill during daylight due to changes in ambient air temperature.

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