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The Engineer Jungle Warfare Course

By Captain Andrew V. Jasaitis

The Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC), located at Fort Sherman, Panama, trains infantry battalions and engineer companies to conduct jungle combat operations. One of the programs offered by JOTC is the Engineer Jungle Warfare Course (EJWC).

The EJWC provides a unique opportunity for engineer companies and platoons to train in a jungle environment. The Jungle Operations Training Battalion normally supports four engineer company and ten engineer platoon rotations annually. The EJWC is open to almost any combat engineer company-airborne, air assault, wheeled, combat support equipment, combat heavy, etc. Most rotations are from corps-level engineer companies because divisional engineer platoons deploy and train with the Infantry Battalion Jungle Warfare Course rotations.

The Jungle Operations Training Center's primary objective is to keep the art of jungle warfare alive in the Army today. In concert with this mission, the Engineer Jungle Warfare Course prepares engineers to fight future battles and win in a jungle environment.

In addition to supporting U.S. Army combat engineers, the Engineer Jungle Warfare Course provides joint training to selected U.S. Marine Corps engineer platoons and some Latin American engineers.

Program of Instruction

The program of instruction for the EJWC is organized, manned, and equipped to provide training to three engineer platoons. Instructors from Alpha Company, Jungle Operations Training Battalion, conduct the training by committees. Team 6 provides instruction in engineer-specific tasks.

The four-week EJWC consists of two weeks of combat training (core jungle training and tactical operations) and two weeks of construction (Army Facilities Components System-Tropical).

Combat Training. Typical training during the first two weeks includes: jungle living, land navigation, mines and booby traps, jungle combat techniques, rappelling, advanced rigging and hauling, squad reconnaissance, squad react-to-contact (blank and live fire), waterborne and small-boat operations, basic and advanced demolitions, and platoon reconnaissance and demolition missions. Platoons also negotiate the rugged "Green Hell" obstacle course. The second week culminates in a two-day company field training exercise designed to meet the unit's mission essential task list (METL) training needs and to employ tactics, techniques, and procedures learned during core training. Company infiltration and movement is by several methods-landing craft, medium (LCM); F-470 Zodiacs, or Army aviation (air assault).

Construction Training. The third and fourth weeks of the course are spent on construction missions, which include carpentry, concrete and masonry, plumbing, and construction management tasks. Projects include bridge repair or replacement; target, rappel tower, obstacle, boat dock, fence, cage, and roof construction; office and classroom renovation; and window installation. Units normally provide eight days of construction effort. All projects are designed to support the training center so that the Jungle Operations Training Battalion can continue to provide high quality training opportunities.

Deployment Tips

Adequate planning is important for a successful deployment to the Jungle Operations Training Center. The following tips will help units planning to attend:

Benefits

The benefits of a deployment to EJWC are many. Engineers receive METL-related training in deployment and numerous collective, leader, and individual tasks. The decentralized training allows squads to train soldiers and develop or improve standing operating procedures. Units can identify strong and weak performers as well as build teamwork and cohesiveness. Soldiers are allowed to make mistakes and train to standard without the pressures of higher headquarters. The Jungle Operations Training Battalion provides almost all training support, so that leaders can concentrate on meeting training objectives. Most of all, engineer units increase proficiency and gain confidence in conducting operations in a harsh jungle environment.

Engineer units should contact Forces Command for scheduling and funding to attend the Jungle Operations Training Center. Under the current Panama Canal Treaty Implementation Plan, Fort Sherman will remain open until the end of 1999. For more information, call the Jungle Operations Training Battalion engineer at DSN (313) 289-6411; Team 6, A Company, (313) 289-6057; or the S3, Jungle Operations Training Battalion, DSN (313) 289-6287.

Captain Jasaitis served as the senior engineer instructor-observer/controller at the Jungle Operations Training Center, Fort Sherman, Panama, from February 1995 to May 1996.



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