NOTHERN TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan (May 14, 2010) --
More than 70 Marines and sailors with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in jungle warfare training at the Camp Gonzalves Jungle Warfare Training Center, April 27.
The servicemembers were organized into 5 teams of 10 to 20 participants and honed their jungle survival skills in support of the BLT as the MEU’s ground combat element.
Throughout the months of April and May, companies from the desert-based battalion are receiving instruction on jungle training through a combination of classroom lecture and practical applications.
The culminating practical exercise is known as the Endurance Course. The E-course stretches across more than 3 miles of thick jungle terrain. Marines negotiated their way through more than 30 obstacles designed to challenge them physically and mentally. The battalion rappelled down 40-foot cliffs using hasty slings, slid across the Commando Crawl, a 50-foot steel rope suspended more than 40 feet above a standing body of water, and trudged through muddy trenches and underneath barbed wire obstacles known as the Pit and Pond. The final part of the E-course is a half-mile sprint where participants must make a stretcher out of logs and uniform blouses, and carry a mock injured Marine through steep muddy hills to the finish line.
“A lot of our Marines haven’t done an E-course as difficult as this since boot camp,” said Staff Sgt. Gene-Michael Juan, platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Co. G. “They were faced with many challenges they haven’t seen in awhile.”
More than 30 Marines within the battalion were chosen to go through an instructor course earlier in April. The additional instructors worked alongside their JWTC counterparts enhancing the jungle training for those who participated.
“We went through the same training as the instructors stationed here,” said Lance Cpl. Rick Romero, an infantryman and jungle warfare instructor with Co. G. “We give the Marines an advantage because the more of us there are, the more eyes we have to spot weakness. As part of the same battalion, we all work together and that allows us to challenge each other.”
The MEU is currently preparing for its Fall Patrol of the Asia-Pacific Region. The deployment includes participating in Amphibious Landing Exercise 2011 (PHIBLEX ’11) in the Republic of the Philippines and Korean Incremental Training Program 2011 (KITP ’11) in the Republic of Korea.