Welcome to the Jungle - 25th ID trains jungle experts

By Ms. Noelle Wiehe (Benning)September 22, 2015

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(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 23, 2015) -- The 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, is building adaptive Soldiers through the Jungle Operations Training Course.

The unit had a display set up at the Maneuver Warfighter Conference to inform Soldiers of the relevance of jungle training to build smart, fast, lethal and precise Soldiers.

The Jungle Operations Training Center prepares Soldiers for operations in jungle environments.

"The jungle encompasses every type of terrain," said 1st Lt. Peter Dierkes, officer-in-charge JOTC, 25th Inf. Div. "If you can survive in the jungle, it is the harshest terrain in the world - if you can survive there, you can survive anywhere.

The course is 15 training days and progresses from individual skills to platoon tasks.

Dierkes said Soldiers learn survival, communication, navigation, waterborne operations, traversing, knots, evasion, marksmanship and patrol base operations.

"The land navigation and marksmanship are what you would learn in a standard Army course, but with jungle-specific knowledge," Dierkes said.

Land navigation in JOTC has shorter movements in thicker terrain, Dierkes said.

The unit observed jungle training courses such as in Australia, Bernai and the 3rd Marine Division Unit's Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, to have derived the most recent version of the JOTC.

"The first iteration looked much different than what the course is now - it has grown ... and now, we're working with the Infantry School to make the points of instruction concrete," Dierkes said.

The course is meant to train the trainer. Soldiers who go through the course return to their battalion as jungle experts, Dierkes said.

"The overarching 'building the adaptive Soldier' is important anywhere they are for the rest of their career," Dierkes said.

The U.S. Army and the military are focusing more on the Pacific as a hotspot, Dierkes said, therefore jungle training is becoming more important.

"It's not a matter of if we fight in the jungle, it is a matter of when we go back to fight in the jungle," Dierkes said. "The 25th had great success in the Vietnam War, fighting in the jungle - we've always had the skills, we've always had the doctrine, it is just a matter of bringing it back to the forefront of the 25th's training."

JOTC has had 51 distinguished visitors since 2014, Dierkes said, to include the chief of staff of the Singapore Army, representatives from New Zealand, China and the sergeant major of the Australian Army. The course has also hosted subject-matter experts from Cambodia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Malaysia for instructor exchanges.

"Everyone in the Pacific speaks a common language, and it seems language is jungle," Dierkes said. "It builds combat power for the 25th, it teaches skills that maybe have been lost over the last 15 years of a different focus, but it also builds Pacific partnerships."