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CLB Marines take on jungle during land navigation course

8 Dec 2011 | Cpl. Garry J. Welch

While dodging banana spiders, fighting through the vines, and trying to find a firm footing on the slick hills in the pouring rain, Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in a land navigation course here, Dec. 8.

The course consisted of five points the Marines had to find, that were spread out hundreds of meters apart throughout the dense jungle.

“It was hard to get to our targets because the terrain is really rough and the undergrowth is really thick here,” said Pfc. Hai L. Tran. “It definitely made it more challenging, but it also made it a lot more fun for us.”

Using just a map, protractor and a compass, the Marines were able to accurately navigate their way to each of their targets within a few hours.

Although modern technology now allows Marines to use global positioning systems and other tools to navigate the land, the importance of being able to effectively use a map, compass and protractor was not lost on the participants.

“Electronics fail,” said Staff Sgt. Lamar C. Painter, the unit movement control chief for CLB 31, 31st MEU, and instructor of the course. “If you know the basics of using a compass, then if and when your electronics fail downrange you can continue the mission.”

Painter went on to say that while deployed in Afghanistan, during a few patrols, their patrol route had to be altered, rendering their GPS’s useless. So they used a compass and applied the basics to continue their mission.

As the Marines completed the course and made it to the final rally point, they reviewed how they did and what could be done better next time.

“They all did really well,” said Painter. “They were hitting all their points and really working together to do it and I hope we get the chance to do it again before we deploy.”

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit