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Camp Gonsalves
Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center
MCJWTC.gif
Logo for the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center
Active 1958 - present
Country Japan
Branch USMC
Type Training Base
Size 20,000 acres (80 km²)
Part of 3rd Marine Division
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler
Nickname J Dub
Commanders
Current
commander
Major Kisha M. Flagg
Notable
commanders
Lt. Gene A. Deegan (1961)
Captain Oliver North (1973-1974)
Captain S.M. Lowery (1983-1986)
Captain Glenn T. Starnes (1986)


Camp Gonsalves is a United States Marine Corps training base located on the northern end of Okinawa, Japan. Covering approximatly 20,000 acres (80 km²) of single and double canopy rain forest Camp Gonsalves is home to the Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) the only US Department of Defense (DOD) jungle training facility in existence.

Contents

History

The area near Okuma that spreads across the villages of Kunigami and Higashi, has been used to train Marines and military service members since the area was first established in 1958. A few short years later a three-man detachment led by Lt. Gene A. Deegan was tasked with establishing a base camp within the training area.

As American involvement in the Vietnam War escalated, interest in the area increased and a detachment of officers and enlisted were stationed at the Northern Training Area (NTA) to teach courses. The area's dense jungle and rugged terrain was ideal for preparing Marines for the jungles of Vietnam.

Most of the surrounding areas are designated as Government of Japan National Forest. This environmentally sensitive area has been used as a training area for over 44 years and is an excellent example of the Marine Corps' environmental stewardship.

Over the years the base camp gradually evolved into an array of Quonset huts and other buildings until 1984 when the present facility was completed. Captain S.M. Lowery, who spent two and a half years as the Officer In Charge of NTA, oversaw the planning and construction of the buildings. On 5 November 1986, the base camp itself was officially named Camp H. Gonsalves, in memory of Private First Class Harold Gonsalves. PFC Gonsalves was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa.

The training at NTA was conducted on the small unit level and was designed to pass on the valuable jungle war fighting lessons learned in Vietnam. In 1995, a formal agreement, the Special Actions Committee on Okinawa, was made to eventually return Camp Gonsalves (and other Japanese US military installations) to the people of Okinawa. In March 1998 the name was officially changed to the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) in an effort to better convey the mission of this training base. At the same time, decisions were made to offer a wider variety of courses to a greater number of Marines at one time. This meant new funds had to be appropriated; the area's bivouac sites and field mess facilities had to be significantly upgraded. The objective was to be able to train entire battalion-sized units so that Camp Gonsalves could become the world's premier training grounds for jungle warfare.

JWTC Mission

Aerial view of the JWTC base camp

The Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) will provide expert instruction, and training in jungle warfare in order to prepare personnel and units to operate in jungle environments. Additionally, JWTC controls the usage of expeditionary campsites and diversified training areas, in order to allow Marine and Joint forces to conduct independent operations and combat exercises, from the squad to battalion/regiment size, within a dense jungle environment.

Training

Instability in Jungle regions varies from political and religious turmoil, narcoterrorism, ethnic conflict, mass migration, famine, economic flight, kidnapping, international boundary disputes, and humanitarian assistance.

JWTC contributes to readiness in a number of ways and focuses on small unit leadership while providing instruction and training for six Infantry Battalions per year (10,000 personnel). JWTC also supports Independent Unit Operations, works with Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces, conducts medical skills training and Multi-National Cross Training, supports air operations, and fulfills Jungle Mission Essential Task Lists.

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Jungle Skills Course

The Jungle Skills Course requires a minimum of 40 students and a maximum of 100. The training cycle lasts six days. Courses are offered to all US military personnell.

The Jungle Skills Course is designed to refine a unit's patrolling and combat skills in the jungle environment. The course is intended to test individual endurance, build confidence, and develop small unit leaders throughout the six day package.

The course focuses on the following areas: Land Navigation, Patrolling, Survival, Jungle Combat, and culminating into the Jungle Endurance Course. (E-Course)

Jungle Endurance Course

The Jungle Endurance Course is a 3.8 mile (5.9 km) trek through the jungle designed to test the student's newly developed skills. Students also learn to work together as a team overcoming the course's tough obstacles.

The course begins with a hasty abseil down a 40-foot (12 m) cliff. Students then cross a deep ravine using the two and three strand bridges. The course heads into the jungle where the students must execute additional hasty abseils and negotiate several log obstacles and stream crossings. The course comes back out of the jungle at the SAT (Suspension and Traverse) Trainer where the students demonstrate their ability to construct a retrievable "Jungle One Rope Bridge" across a standing body of water. The course continues into the jungle for several more stream crossings and log obstacles, including a 12-foot (3.7 m) wall that the students must assist each other over.

Students continue towards the "Pit and Pond" where they must low crawl through the muddy trenches and underneath barbed wire obstacles. The final obstacle is a 800 m stretcher carry up three steep, muddy hills and on to the finish line.

Independent Operations

There is also a variety of training areas set aside for Independent Operations. Ten training areas are currently available for training opportunities as well as 23 helicopter landing zones.

Independent Operations that are supported by JWTC include: Fast Rope, Air Assault, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP), External Loads, Ship-to-Shore Operations, abseiling tower, multiple target sites, beach access, and survival training areas.

The future of JWTC

Morning colors at Camp Gonsalves

The future of the Jungle Warfare Training Center is promising. The goal is to become the premier Jungle Warfare Training Center in the world. The next few years will see continued improvements in the training areas, bivouac sites, and several additions to the curriculum.

Future training will include an extended Man-Tracking Course, revised Jungle Leaders Course aimed at the Squad Leader ranks, and further Joint and Multi-National training programs.

The development of new training sites, including a multi-level tunnel complex, Asian Combat Town, field mess upgrade and suspension and traverse (SAT) trainer upgrade, are in various stages of planning.

Future Initiatives for JWTC include: Jungle Warfare Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Jungle Warfare Marine Corps Institute (MCI) Course, and Exchange Programs between U.S. and Foreign Allies.

After the jungle warfare training grounds at Fort Sherman were returned to the Panamanian government on 31 December 1999 under the terms of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, JWTC on Okinawa became the only jungle training grounds in the entire Department of Defense by default.

Environmentalism

The area is an example of the Nansei Islands subtropical evergreen forests, which once covered most of the Ryukyu Islands.[1] It is home to 51 endangered species, such as the Okinawa Rail, a flightless bird, and two newly discovered bat species. Extreme care is taken to preserve their habitat. Strict regulations concerning solid waste management and the disposal of hazardous materials are enforced, and thorough police calls (clean sweep operations) are conducted at the end of each training cycle. Due to the area's limited access by industry and the steps taken by the Marines Corps, the environment will be preserved so that Marines and wildlife may continue to live together in harmony.

See also

References

External links


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