Capt. Shigenobu Morinaga,
Support Battalion, 196th Infantry Brigade
QUEENSLAND, Australia — Approximately 40 U.S. Army-Pacific Soldiers from Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and Korea, as well as from across nine different brigades, recently graduated from the Australian Junior Leaders Jungle Operations Training, or the JLJOT course, located in the Tully Training Area, just north of Townsville, here.
JLJOT is a physically and mentally demanding course that forces Soldiers into an unfamiliar environment that requires outside-the-box thinking.
Despite the combat experiences of many of the students, who have combat tours in operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, the thick jungles of Australia provided unique problems and challenges. With no prior jungle experience amongst any of them, their learning curve was high as the students prepared for graded operations in the field, starting on Day 2.
The tried and tested resource the students could rely upon was the professional and knowledgeable jungle training staff. Each member of the cadre had a minimum of three years of experience in jungle operations, many with Australian deployments to other jungle environments in the Pacific.
Over the course of a few weeks, the Australian cadre taught, mentored and advised the U.S. Soldiers on Australian doctrine, battle drills, weapons and operations. The rapid-paced training and immediate testing of knowledge in the field environment turned a group of 40 strangers into a cohesive, smart and lethal jungle fighting force.
The group was put to the test by executing a final field exercise that spanned a 48-hour period and ended with a gut-check exercise called “True Grit.”
True Grit was a fitting end to the intense training, as U.S. Soldiers were required to put together all the lessons they had learned while executing a ruck run, equipment run, obstacle course, litter carry and bayonet course.
The lessons learned in the jungles of Australia will not only serve as a unique knowledge base for those who attended, but also will positively influence generations of other Soldiers the students will lead in the future.
U.S. and Australian soldiers who participated in the course established strong bonds and built a time-resistant relationship that will facilitate combined/joint operations in the future between these two nations. U.S. and Australian soldiers alike were able to exchange, replicate and critique “Doctrine, Leadership and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures” styles to create a hybrid blend of knowledge best suited for small unit operations in a jungle environment.
The JLJOT and other courses available at the Combined Training Center-Jungle Training, or CTC-JT, are open to U.S. Soldiers and aid in building the bonds, familiarization and partnerships that culminate in the largest U.S.-Australian exercise, Talisman Saber.