Crack corps patrols jungle

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 1994, 12:00am

NO battlefield is as demanding as the tropical rain-forest and the Amazon, the greatest of them all, is defended by a legendary corps of soldiers, pilots and seamen nicknamed the 'Jungle Warriors'.

In the past few years, several 'low-intensity' conflicts along Brazil's 10,000 kilometres of jungle border have threatened its stability.

Armed and well-trained guerilla bands roam the area attacking villages, industrial facilities and military installations.

Drug cartels backed by armies of mercenaries use the forest canopy to conceal large cocaine-refining laboratories. Gold and diamond prospectors, greedy for instant fortune, intrude into the territory of primitive Indian tribes.

The specially-trained troops of the 'Jungle Warriors' fight against these threats. Nowhere is survival in the rain-forest practised so extensively as at the Brazilian Army's Centro de Instrucao de Guerra na Selva (CIGS), the centre for jungle instruction.

Here, in a soaking, hot forest known by those who must survive in it as 'The Green Hell', members of the United States Army's Special Forces, Britain's SAS, the French Foreign Legion and other elite corps join their Brazilian counterparts to learn jungle warfare and survival.

Students initially learn where to find food and water in the rain-forest; fruit and nuts are abundant. But hunting and trapping skills are also taught - lairs and spears are built with nothing more than a knife from twigs, branches and vines.

Learning how to make fire is crucial, as is knowing what natural medicines are amid the vegetation.