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Task Force Koa Moana: Jungle Roots

By Cpl. William Hester | III Marine Expeditionary Force | July 18, 2016

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 OVALAU, Fiji — The U.S. Marine Corps is famous for their reputation in jungle warfare. From the island hopping campaign in WWII to the bloody battles of Vietnam, Marines have proven their ability to operate and succeed in the humid, thick terrain the Asia-Pacific region provides. However, for over a decade, Marines have spent the majority of their time in a desert climate or training for one, distancing them from their original jungle roots.
Marines with Task Force Koa Moana are conducting infantry training with Soldiers from the Royal Fiji Military Forces, July 1-19, 2016, at Ovalau, Fiji, as part of their deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.
 The training schedule for the Marines and Soldiers includes patrol base operations, jungle survival and live fire ranges to increase interoperability and relations through mil-to-mil training.
“Patrol base operations is setting in security at a specific area and conducting patrol operations in that area to search for the enemy,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Valentine, an infantryman with Task Force Koa Moana, originally assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
During the patrol base operation training the Marines and Fijians integrated into two teams and practiced reconnaissance patrols, patrol base etiquette, employing sentries, 360 degree security and employing that security at night, according to Fijian Cpl. Lote Rambuku, a section commander with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Fiji Infantry Regiment, RFMF.
“The Fijians showed us how they operate in this environment, and how to move as fast as possible through the terrain,” said Valentine.
After two days of patrol base operations, the Marines and Fijians conducted jungle survival training hosted by the Fijian Soldiers.
“They taught us how to forage for food, as well as water procurement, how to collect water, the best types of shelters for a jungle environment using what’s around you and how to make a proper bamboo raft,” said Valentine, from Mission Viejo, California.
During the survival training the Fijians found coconuts, yams and other fresh foods and showed the Marines how to properly prepare them.
“They could survive like no other,” said Valentine. “All they need is the basics from the jungle.”
It didn’t take much time for the Fijians and the Marines to realize they had a lot in common, and they could learn a lot from each other.
“It’s a good opportunity for me and the other section leaders to learn different weapon systems,” said Rambuku in regards to the live fire ranges. “It’s good exposure for us in terms of interacting with other organizations, like the U.S. Marines.”
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