Okinawa Marines to put hands-on nature training to the test
November 19, 2008
CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa — Within the dense growth of the jungle are the materials needed to survive.
That’s what Jungle Warfare Training Center instructors are trying to get across to troops attending the Basic Jungle Survival Course.
About 18 Marines with the 3rd Intelligence Battalion are getting hands-on training this week making traps and snares built with bamboo and wood, shelters constructed of thatch, and even solar and underground water stills.
The course focuses on four tasks: building field expedient shelters, finding and purifying water sources, catching wild game and preparing and eating the game caught.
This is a great course for troops who come from cities and probably didn’t spend a lot of time in the woods when they were younger, student Lance Cpl. Caleb Armstrong said during training Monday.
"We’re just teaching them the basic stuff," said Cpl. Joshua Mathes, the course’s chief instructor.
Mathis stressed that student are only limited by their imagination in devising ways to survive using the jungle around them.
And their resourcefulness will be put to the test.
After spending Sunday and Monday in classroom instruction and learning skills in the field, students will spend a day or so on their own surviving off the land, Lt. Col. Thomas Goessman, the center’s officer in charge, said Monday.
Successfully completing tasks will earn students a cupful of the goat meat instructors showed them how to prepare during the instruction phase, he said.
Armstrong said he did a lot of camping in his youth and knew some of what was taught in class. "But I did learn some new shelters and traps" like the pig sticker, he said.
"Coming out here and being in the woods, getting dirty; it’s always fun," said fellow student Lance Cpl. Nicholas Elliott.
That’s the key to surviving in the jungle, to "keep a positive mental attitude," Mathes said.
"You can go three days without water, 14 days without food," he said. "But if you can’t keep a clear head, you’ve already given up hope."