'Ode to Joy'

'Ode to Joy'

April 29, 2011

Recon Marines tackle jungle warfare training

Staff Sgt. Sigifredo Apodaca, right, team leader, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, discusses the plan of action with Cpl. Adam Reynolds, assistant team leader, 3rd Recon Bn., during a stop in a patrol at the Jungle Warfare Training Center April 18. The Marines were practicing standard operating procedures for movement in jungle terrain. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Stroud)
By Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud, Marine Corps Bases Japan 
JUNGLE WARFARE TRAINING CETER, Okinawa, Japan  — Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, engaged in jungle warfare training at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Okinawa April 12-27.

In preparation for an upcoming deployment, the Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company worked on patrolling tactics, jungle survival techniques and communication during a training evolution designed to focus on the fundamentals of reconnaissance and teamwork.

“No matter how advanced our job is, we start with the basics and go from there,” said Staff Sgt. Sigifredo Apodaca, team leader, 3rd Recon Bn. “The goal is to work on (standard operating procedures), working out the mechanics of how we work together as a team.”

Instructors from the JWTC hosted both classroom and practical application sessions on jungle survival skills for the reconnaissance Marines. 

The JWTC instructors discussed jungle shelters, water purification, improvised weapons, snares, starting a fire, jungle navigation and tracking foot-mobile enemies during the training evolution, according to Sgt. Joshua R. Mathes, chief instructor, JWTC. 

The terrain and vegetation of the JWTC provided the Marines with an environment conducive to the training.

“This kind of terrain is always a challenge, that is why we come out here and work on communication and movement,” said Apodaca. “You can always paint a broad picture in the classroom, but it’s nothing like being out in this environment.”

The thick canopies, limited visibility and steep terrain provided a degree of challenge for the Marines.

“Navigating is the main challenge, if you can’t get a (global positioning system) signal you have to use your compass, and with the drastic changes in elevation you can’t shoot a good azimuth and follow it for a long way,” said Cpl. Jason T. Schaefer, reconnaissance scout, 3rd Recon Bn. “You have to inch through the jungle.”
The foliage also provided an impediment for communications.

“The (satellite communications) were an issue with the thick canopies,” said Cpl. Shane Robertson, one of the battalion’s radio operators. “Any type of communication was an issue.”

Movement through jungle terrain was another focus of training.

“The course of training we’ve had has helped with mountaineering and traversing some of the extreme obstacles like cliff faces,” said Cpl. Adam Reynolds, assistant team leader, 3rd Recon Bn.

The training movements started off with a low degree of difficulty that gradually increased, allowing the Marines to perfect the fundamentals of patrolling before they were asked to execute a movement under operational conditions.

“When we first came out here we started slick, (no packs), working out the basics, and we’ve been adding more gear and more weight as we go,” said Apodaca. 

The presence of the JWTC instructors and the challenging terrain provided the Marines with the chance to engage in this wide range of training in a relatively short amount of time.

“Everything you need is up here, from patrolling to rappelling. It’s all here,” said Apodaca.

“We are just making sure everyone is capable because a lot of us are new to the job,” said Reynolds. “We need to make sure we are capable of doing whatever is asked of us.”

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