By Ethan Green.
A Marine Raider with Marine Forces Special Operations Command participated in the French Foreign Legion’s Jaguar Course, Feb. 19 – April 14, 2023.
The Jaguar Course is an international, eight-week jungle warfare course held in the French Guiana rainforest. This course was taught exclusively in French, testing participants’ language skills on top of the physical demands of intense training in a jungle environment.
“My initial language was Egyptian Arabic, so I had to learn any French I could in the eight weeks heads up I had before attending the course,” said the Marine Raider, a critical skills operator. “Before I headed down there, the language program got me to a 1+/1+ in speaking/listening on the books. I think it proved that we could find unique training opportunities, regardless of the native language spoken, and use the language program to get us to speak what we need in environments that are otherwise hard to simulate in the States.”
All critical skills operators are assigned an initial core language determined by their Defense Language Aptitude Battery score and any prior language experience they may have. The Marine Raider Regiment’s Language Program seeks out training opportunities like the Jaguar Course to further sustain and improve individual language skills.
“Having a robust language system to enable us to be linguistically self-sustainable in unique training environments gives us limitless training opportunities, which in turn enhances our real-world capabilities,” said the Marine Raider.
The Jaguar Course is open to a diverse spectrum of students from conventional to special operations forces across NATO and non-NATO countries. This iteration included two Marine Corps volunteers, a scout sniper from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines and a MARSOC critical skills operator.
“Working with other nations in the jungle environment brought me to the realization of a quote my Team Chief often uses – ‘The Jungle is Neutral,’” said the Marine Raider. “It comes from a book written by Freddie Chapman, a British officer who had to survive in the jungles of Malaysia to evade the Japanese invasion in WWII.”
The Marine Raider said success came down to discipline in routine and proactive care procedures. The course consists of four phases – acclimatization, hardening, combatives, and evaluation.
“The jungle training environment cannot be simulated and must be trained in its most authentic, most challenging regions, such as South America or Asia,” said the Marine Raider. “The jungle environment is equally extremely difficult for survivability as it is plentiful in resources. But you can only learn to mitigate all the little unexpected hardships and gain from the subtle resources by conducting realistic training before being flung into wartime as Chapman did.”
The Marine Raider said the Centre d’Entraînement à la Forêt Équatoriale provided an excellent training environment for jungle warfare and is an ideal facility for future combined training exchanges or bilateral training opportunities between Marine Special Operations Teams and the French Foreign Legion.
This story by Sgt. Ethan Green, MARSOC, was first published by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service on August 24, 2023. DVIDS content is in the public domain.
Photo: A Marine Raider with Marine Forces Special Operations Command participates in an obstacle course during the French Foreign Legion’s Jaguar Course at French Guiana, Feb 19 – April 14, 2023. The Jaguar Course is an international course consisting of eight weeks designed to train platoon-level tactics in the jungle environment. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo, April 14, 2023)