BLT Marines complete jungle warfare training

By Lance Cpl. Breanna Weisenberger, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

 Okinawa, Japan --

Marines with Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, completed training at Jungle Warfare Training Center, Camp Gonsalves, Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 3, 2017, in preparation for an upcoming spring deployment.

BLT 2/5, usually stationed at the Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton, California, is currently the Ground Combat Element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. 

The jungle warfare training included land navigation, rappelling, casualty evacuation, and a three mile endurance course. The unique environment at JWTC gave Fox Co. a chance to build unit cohesion and small-unit leadership in a climate and terrain unavailable in southern California, according to Capt. Shawn P. Connor, Fox Co. commanding officer.

“This training prepares Marines specifically for missions in a jungle environment,” said Connor. “JWTC helps us prepare, as a company, for contingencies all across the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

During the two week course, company leaders focused on key proficiencies, including tactical patrolling, security and communication. The environment at JWTC gave the individual small-team leaders in the company a chance to refine their abilities in austere conditions, according 1st Sgt. Arthur Wood, company first sergeant.

“With this training, we ensure that our Marines have a better understanding of the challenges they may face in a jungle environment,” said Wood. “Proficiency in a jungle environment is critical, and now we have practice exercising our capabilities in the jungle.”

At 17,500 acres, Camp Gonsalves is the largest U.S. training facility in Okinawa. The climate, humidity, rain, mud and wildlife make JWTC a challenge – one that most of the Fox Co. Marines have never encountered, according to Sgt. Alfred Gray Woods, squad leader with the company.

“I like to think of it as jungle appreciation, because this is a whole new environment that a lot of us are not familiar with or don’t get to train in a lot,” said Woods.

As the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward deployed unit, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s air-ground-logistics team provides a flexible force, ready to perform a wide range of military operations, from limited combat to humanitarian assistance operations, throughout the Indo-Asia- Pacific region.