Hard routine patrolling, 3am ish…sitting in a vicious thunder and lightening storm, using an umbrella to keep off the heavy rain and maintain my body heat. Using the storm to re hydrate myself and replenish my water bottles. Early 1980s, Bob Shepherd.
If you spend a full day in the jungle with any LRRP (Long Range Recce Patrol), you’ll have an appreciation of how to go about your daily life in any theatre, and in any job inside or outside of the military, no matter your management position.
I’ve always said that positive time spent operating in the jungle, and learning from that time, can set you up for almost anything in the future. Having to manage yourself, let alone the rest of the patrol, is one massive task under what could be considered a very hostile environment.
In a twenty four hour period, you never stop thinking. Even lying in your hammock at night exhausted, your thinking over that day, then thinking how the next day will go having already discussed it as a patrol.
For decades now, the British special forces and others have had the jungle phase as a key component to their selection for very good reason. Way back in my day, the MOD bean counters were extremely pushy in trying to close down the jungle school for obvious bean counting reasons. Not a hint of interest as to why it’s there in the first place, and what it really brings to the table for UK forces operations and commitments around the globe. At one stage as the chief instructor of the jungle school in Brunei, I wrote and presented a paper to the MOD via a General to fight to keep it open, as I knew full well what the school means for the professionalism and skills set of the British soldier.
If an individual can be at one in a jungle environment, show good personal admin skills, good health and hygiene skills, good basic soldiering skills, good navigational skills, good communications skills, good medical skills, and good survival skills… then that individual could continue living in that environment forever. In addition, those skills can be demonstrated when taken to any other environment, as the jungle is seen as very much the harshest to show off those skills while operational or in training when carried out correctly by the individual. I’ve seen good officers and men completely crack when faced with pressure under the jungle canopy.
Teaching jungle LRRP live fire drills to students from the Parachute Regiment…a pleasure to be training with them. Mid 1980s, Bob Shepherd.
Jungle training doesn’t come around very often for military units. It’s always angered me when some units would play at jungle training, and don’t use every minute of the day to be at one with the environment. You have to stay in the jungle and be under the canopy to understand and learn to live with it, and not continue to fight it. Many a time I’ve seen units going into the jungle in phases, coming out for breaks. If you do that, you’ve lost the jungle instinct…back out to a hot shower, switching on an electric light, the kettle, a computer, speaking in normal tones, the noise and smells of the outside world…all that was gained in the short spell inside the jungle is now lost!
From getting up from your hammock way before first light, getting into your wet kit, taking down your basha, packing everything away, leaving as little sign to no sign as possible, and sitting on your bergen ready for a first light possible attack from an unseen enemy…then off to a full day’s patrolling…again leaving as little sign as possible…undulating damp soft ground, heavy kit, high humidity…little food and water intake…finding the next evenings basha/LUP spot…another night in the hammock…getting up for “stand to” way before first light…day in day out, until the task is complete, and then back to safety.
That’s one hell of a management course to take forward for the rest of your life no matter what your future career may be.
I won’t go into the intricate details of patrolling, as there is still a wee bit of jungle left here and there, and I have no wish to contribute to compromising any friendly patrol in the future. But when you’re deployed as a 4 to 6 man patrol, way forward of any friendlies, your life is in your hands only. Do it well, or don’t do it at all.
In my time in the military, it was without doubt the most rewarding theatre of operations when patrolling was carried out with the utmost professionalism.
Boy, what a learning experience…that tells you everything about yourself and the others around you…and oh yes…what a management course.