Do you know, or have you seen a Soldier wearing a tab that says: Jungle Expert? Maybe you are quite familiar with uniform regulations, and you are curious about the where, why, and how this patch can be on a uniform.
In today’s post, we are going to research the Jungle Expert Tab: what you should know. Is it a new tab that you have not been made aware of?
Jungle Warfare History
At this time in history, our military has been performing their duties and missions mainly in areas with no jungles. The fact is: our military has operated in jungle territories over the years, and will probably do so again. As the Boy Scouts of America motto goes: Be Prepared!
Some of the jungle operations over the years that Soldiers have had to operate in include:
World War II jungles of Burma
Conflicts throughout South America
Forests and jungles cover approximately 30% of the world. Over the years, enemy forces have used these areas to perform tactics to succeed in their objectives. It just makes good sense that our military is trained on the proper techniques of jungle warfare.
When construction of the Panama Canal began in the early 1900’s, the United States knew that they would have to protect it from enemies. Fort Sherman was erected on the Caribbean side of the canal, and Fort Amador was built on the Pacific side.
Troops stationed at either Fort Amador or Fort Sherman had to understand the nature of the jungle. Panama was a complete jungle. As military operations grew in South America, key leaders knew that Soldiers should be trained in jungle warfare. United States Army South controlled Fort Sherman, and in 1951 they opened the Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTC).
Jungle Operations Training Center
JOTC was used to train in jungle warfare. Both United States and Central American Soldiers could participate in this intensive course that taught everything a Soldier needed to survive in the jungle during combat. Upon graduating the course, the Jungle Expert Badge was awarded. Yes, it was a badge, and it could be worn by those who passed the jungle test, but we are talking a tab now right?
Fort Sherman and Fort Amador were both turned over to Panama in 1999. When that happened, the Jungle Operation Training Center was closed. The badge was then considered obsolete, but some Soldiers and officers have always realized a need for training in jungle warfare.
Major General Kurt Fuller was a graduate of the original JOTC. As commander of the Hawaii based 25th Infantry Division, he knew these Soldiers would have a strong advantage if they understood all the aspects of jungle warfare. Developing a 21 day course, Fuller and others have been making sure these Soldiers are prepared for combat in jungles.
You may wonder how that is working out with the Army Combat Uniforms. Sand colored uniforms just do not blend in the jungle very well. The new JOTC course was able to obtain the older Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) for these training programs.
War in the deserts of the Middle East can be very different from jungle fighting. In the desert, you may be able to spot an enemy a mile away. In the jungle, an enemy could be just feet from you and not be seen. Soldiers are trained in all the signs and tactics to properly handle this kind of combat.
No, not yet. While many officers and Soldiers believe this course should be Army wide, it isn’t. There is no outlook on whether the Army will open this course up for an approved course.
The Jungle Expert Tab is not an approved Army badge. Major General Fuller authorized this tab to only be on the uniforms of members of the 25th Infantry Division who have passed the course. If a Soldier is wearing this tab and are not attached to the 25th ID, they are in violation of uniform code. They may have earned the tab, but it needs to be put in a case somewhere, and not on their uniform.
In my personal opinion, the Army will allow this tab, and will open the new JOTC course up Army wide. This course is full of great preparation for any Soldier who may be “plopped” into a jungle combat situation. The course is in 3 phases.
This is completely taught within the jungle environment. It includes:
insertion and extraction
Phase 2 moves into the squad and platoon training which includes:
close quarter combat
point and cover man
Everything learned thus far is moved to the company level situations. Missions will be provided and may include:
raids and ambushes
attacks of all kinds
When finished, the Soldier will be completely prepared for jungle operations. They will then be given the Jungle Expert Tab and as long as they are assigned to the Pacific Command, the Soldier can wear the tab with pride.
We can all feel just a little safer knowing that many of our Soldiers are prepared in case enemies within jungle zones attack. Hopefully the Army will realize just how wise it is in having properly trained Soldiers in this type of warfare.
With that, I must say if you have earned the Jungle Expert Tab, you deserve to be proud, but do not wear it if you are now outside the 25th Infantry Division. Maybe in time, the Army will approve the wear of this coveted tab, but for now it is not approved.
If you do have the Jungle Expert Tab, we would love to hear from you. Please tell us about the training and your time in Hawaii. You have the right to be proud, and we will keep pushing for the Army to allow this great tab to be approved for wear. Just leave a comment below. Thank you.