As I began to watch this video about the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center, I felt an overwhelming sense of deja vu. This environment is all too familiar to me, as it will be to my fellow Marines and Corpsmen who served in the mountains and jungles of the I Corps area in Vietnam. We have been there and done that.
The fact of the matter is that, since the original Gulf War and through the 9/11 wars, the battle environments our troops have been fighting in have been mostly desert and desert-mountain terrain. To the current generation of Marines, jungle environments are not familiar. We Vietnam veterans learned how to move and fight in and through the jungle by trial and error, but what we learned there is surely being used in this USMC Jungle Warfare Training that you will see in this video.
There is a great deal of difference, visually and physically, between the desert terrains we have been operating in over the last 30 years and the terrain that is common to jungle environments. I have no experience with the desert environment, but I suspect that your visual perspective is often much wider, more open. I know the jungle. In the jungle setting, everything is more intimate, closer, more concealed by the “green curtain” of the forest vegetation.
Having been in that kind of an environment, I know how close you can be to the enemy without seeing them. Sometimes you hear them first or even smell them. What you hear through the dense forest and undergrowth you don’t always see. It is amazing how quiet the jungle can get. As Recon Marines, it was our job to search for them and to see them and stay unseen by them.
Recon teams were often six to eight men strong. Our purpose for being was to be “the eyes and ears” of the division in the field. We were to go into an area, to gather intelligence, and to seek out troop movements or weapons caches and get out as quietly as we went in, so as not to get into pitched battles. The Recon motto is: “Swift, Silent, and Deadly.” Besides, if and when we did get into contact with the enemy, we would almost always be outnumbered.
I recently did a story about the “Sparta Brigade,” the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), stationed out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. That U.S. Army Airborne unit is trained in the necessary skills that go with fighting in a harsh, frozen, wintery woodland and tundra environment. The training, skills, equipment, clothing, weapons systems, etc. are unique and specific to each of these widely different environments. It is clear that the military is aware of the need to be able to respond to threats in all of these environments.
This video will give you a fair perspective of what jungle warfare looks and feels like. As I said above, this video took me back 50 years almost instantly. I could feel the stifling, humid air and the eery silence, and I even remembered the smells of the jungle. My senses were on alert. Jungle warfare has its own kind of exigencies that we need to know and prepared for. This video shows how the Marines and other Special Operators are being readied for the possibility of having to fight in such environments. Oorah, Marines!Whizzco