The Jungle Expert Tab: What You Should Know

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

  • Vietnam conflict

  • Korean war

  • 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.

Army Wide?

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.

JOTC Course

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.

Phase 1

This is completely taught within the jungle environment. It includes:

  • survival techniques

  • navigation

  • insertion and extraction

  • water operations

  • communication

  • more

Phase 2

Phase 2 moves into the squad and platoon training which includes:

  • combat patrols

  • close quarter combat

  • ambush reaction

  • point and cover man

  • more

Phase 3

Everything learned thus far is moved to the company level situations. Missions will be provided and may include:

  • air assaults

  • 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.

jungle expert tabFinal Thoughts

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.

12 thoughts on “The Jungle Expert Tab: What You Should Know”

  1. Went thru at battalion level in 77. Learned a ton of stuff that has helped my throughout life. Still have my Jungle Expert patch on the khaki uniform I ETS’d in late 79. That patch, along with my Recondo Patch (101st Abn) although long gone now mean the world to me. Nobody rubber stamped them you had to work for it.

    Come on Big Army…there’s a ribbon for everything now or so it seems, what’s the big deal with a JE tab?

  2. Requesting an update, as of this year (2020) does the regulation still stay that only members of the 25th ID can wear it on their OCPs? Just curious.

  3. Or you could do like some do and wear it under the pocket flap. That way you’re wearing it for yourself but still in “regs”.

  4. Just a quick thought, as I read this. I turned 19 at JOTC in Ft. Sherman, while successfully completing and earning the JOTC Badge/Patch/TAB. While I loved the training, as put on by SF, and Navy personnel there, stationed at the school, I find it very aggravating to see the words, “PUT IN A CASE Somewhere”????????? What do you think, as a writer for this particular page, Part-time-commander, if you went through and graduated any military school, Airborne, Air Assault, EIB, Pathfinders, Navy Seal,….the list goes on and on, of earning distinction, through sweat and hard work, and integrity, loyalty, and perserverence and determination, only to be told, uh, we closed that fort, so you “can’t” wear your Jungle Expert Badge, even though you earned it…..Let that just linger there for awhile. Its ridiculous to be “sold” out, just because someone don’t think we JUNGLE EXPERTS have earned the badge and know it, to have earned it, and be told, put it in a case somewhere??? I won’t oblige you new Army folk, and your decisions…thats mine, and I will wear it, and be proud of it…..aside from what you all think. This article is insane. I don’t appreciate the thought here. Hope this gets to someone who can do all of us old USED UP VETS, the right thing, handle this the right way. Don’t put us in a case, on a shelf….wth???? Seriously????

    1. If you actually read the post, I do not agree with it being cased. I do believe you should be able to wear it, but by doing so you are breaking regulations not made by me.

      I feel for you, but please don’t shoot the messenger.

      1. I earned mine in ft Sherman in ’88. It’s on my DD-214. It’s crazy that it’s not authorized to wear if it’s on that.

        1. I think it’s authorized USINDOPACOM-wide now. Might double check that and update the above. If you are assigned to a unit authorized to wear it, but did JOTC at Sherman instead of in Hawaii, can you still wear the patch?

      2. Donald G Benson

        I went there in 76 for training from Ft Bragg, my unit 25th Sig BN/XVIII Airborne Corp, right in the midst of the Canal Zone strike. We were detained a few days after graduation and mission to protect, We were “authorized” to wear JOTC badge/patch/tab our uniforms. It should not be something in a “box”.

        1. Carlos G. Sanchez Jr.

          Completely agree brothers. I took the training on 1982 at Ft Sherman. For my surprise, Wile looking at my 214 several years back, I noticed that It does not show my jungle training….Brow i was so depressed and Super mad that it took me a wile to stop bothering me so, so much….I do think its my bad because after separation from active duty in 1985 at Ft Jackson I remember that they issue there my 214 but did not noticed that the training was missing. I remember clearly that my certificate of the Jungle training competition was present in my 201 file .For sure the clerk did not typed or maybe was just jealous about it….I guess its kind of late now but super proud that i march true it with flying colors..

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