CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa --
While Marines are unlikely to find themselves deep in the heart of a jungle during current combat operations in the Middle East, they must always maintain their ability to fight in any clime and any place.
Marines with Company B., Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Expeditionary Unit, completed a two-week training evolution at the Jungle Warfare Training Center by running the Jungle Endurance Course here, April 20.
“Everything they’ve learned over the past two weeks is put into play here, one after another,” said Cpl. Blake Cameron, an instructor with the center. “They must navigate the route through the jungle and over the various obstacles in their way.”
Spanning nearly four miles of winding jungle terrain, three platoons of B. Co. rappelled down sheer rock faces, pulled themselves over ropes suspended above a creek, low-crawled under concertina wire and stretcher-carried companions through slippery ravines.
“Last time we did a course like this, it was in a cold-weather training environment, completely different from this,” said Lance Cpl. Asael Cornejo, rifleman with Co. B., BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “We may not be in jungles in Afghanistan, but this gets us used to different environments we may need to operate in.”
Adding to the value of the JEC training was a lack of officers, excluded from training to place the burden of leadership on squad leaders. Sergeants and corporals led their Marines through the course, utilizing every element of small-unit leadership to accomplish the mission.
The jungle warfare course serves as one of the culminating training events for Company B., BLT 1/4 as they near the end of their tour with the 31st MEU.
Amphibious training from ship to shore, and trudging through the dense, wet jungle of Okinawa has helped to broaden the experience of the infantry battalion’s small unit leaders.
“The Marines need to be ready to engage the enemy in any climb and place, because war does not discriminate against certain types of environments,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Duncan, platoon commander for 1st Platoon, Co. B., BLT 1/4, 31st MEU. “This is some of the best training these Marines have gotten in a long time, and it all goes toward preparing us for tomorrow’s war, whenever and wherever it may be.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.