SRT Marines eye jungle training
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    Staring through binoculars, Sgt. Geoffrey Furgason scans his jungle surroundings. Somewhere in the dense, dark foliage three of Furgason's Marines are stalking him and trying to take him out - unless he can find them first.

    Furgason has the advantage. He knows they're coming, and he has nothing to do but scan the jungle in front of him and wait for them to make a mistake and disturb the vegetation enough for him to spot them.

    The stalkers, on the other hand, have to move ever so carefully at a slow pace that is often agonizing. One by one, Furgason locates and picks them off as they approach. And while the disadvantaged Marines aren't successful, the enhanced concealment stalk exercise they are participating in improves their ability to approach a target from the jungle undetected.

    It's not the most likely of scenarios for the members of the Provost Marshal's Office Special Reaction Team, but the team, whose mission is essentially to serve as Marine Corps Base Camp Butler's SWAT team, constantly trains on a myriad of specialized tactics.

    The skills they practiced Sept. 28 in the Central Training Area are useful for the SRT Marines, who could find themselves reacting to a scenario in which sneaking up on and quickly neutralizing a target would be necessary, such as an armed suspect who has taken hostages, Furgason said.

    The exercise involved three stalkers and one observer, and the goal was for the stalkers to move within 100 meters of the observer undetected. The stalkers also had to be in a position that would allow them to fire two clear shots without giving away their position. If a stalker got closer than 100 meters, they would fail even if they were not spotted.

    "If you're closer than 100 meters, it doesn't matter if you get your shots off. You have now given away your position and you're close enough that the enemy will easily be able to shoot you, even with a low range weapon such as a pistol," Furgason said to his Marines after they stalked too close to him.

    The stalkers spent hours low crawling through the thick forest. Moving at a snail's pace, they took hours to cover distances that would take a few minutes to walk and learned that it takes a lot more than physical skill or stamina to be a good stalker.

    "The stalk was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be," said Lance Cpl. Richard Edgar, an entry member with SRT. "The exercise was more mental than physical; discipline was definitely needed. Any little thing you do can give away your position and there are all kinds of animals, such as banana spiders, messing with you while you're trying to low crawl and stay quiet."

    While SRT Marines usually won't find themselves called out to a jungle area, Furgason said the training is still a valuable asset for the Marines.

    "Even though we conduct our training out in the jungle, we learn and hone the mental and physical discipline it takes to do our job in any kind of environment we may find ourselves in," he said.

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