Jungle Enforcement Team provides critical protection to Andersen AFB

  • Published
  • By Airman Spencer Perkins
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

The jungle is one of the harshest terrains for military operations which puts Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in a unique position. A large part of the base’s perimeter is enveloped by thick jungle vegetation that has an abundance of wildlife.

Due to the lack of physical security in the jungle environment, Andersen AFB, historically, has had chronic problems with poachers and trespassers moving beyond the base’s perimeter. That is where the 36th Security Forces Squadron Jungle Enforcement Team comes in.

“The JET was created to fill the void in areas where physical security became less than adequate,” said Staff Sgt. Alfredo Gutierrez, 36th SFS jungle enforcement squad leader. “Our ability to penetrate areas of the jungle that may have gone years without someone patrolling has given our defense force commander a more complete sight and picture of strategically defending our areas.”

The JET is made up of 14 members and they begin their day with gearing up and driving out to the base’s perimeter for patrolling on all-terrain vehicles, which allows them to maneuver better through the jungle.

“For a normal patrol vehicle, it can be hard to catch someone because they’ll see the big bulky white vehicle with lights, but with these (ATVs) we can park anywhere and move on foot to sneak up on and catch trespassers,” said Gutierrez.

Spending countless hours in the jungle isn’t easy and the JET members have many challenges that they have to overcome, especially at night time. When it’s dark and they need to switch to their night vision goggles in order to see, the fog and rain can affect their visuals. From there they will switch to thermal vision but even then, they can only see so far due to the fog.

“You’re pretty much going in blind,” said JG, 36th SFS jungle team enforcement officer. “You have to use the ambient lighting from the moon and depend on your sense of smell to find poachers and trespassers.”

In addition to having visual issues at night, they also have to deal with harsh weather and the different species that live in the jungle such as banana spiders, wild boar, wild canines and brown tree snakes.

“The number one requirement for the JET is that you can’t have any aversions to anything such as bugs, spiders, snakes, wildlife attacking you and inclement weather,” said JG. “You have to get past the fear of something crawling on you in the middle of the night and where you’re not able to turn your flashlight on to see what it is.”

Being fearless is not the only requirement for being on the JET. Members must maintain a physical training test score of 90% and above. The individuals also need to hold certain certifications and be nominated by their flight chiefs.

“Our guys are all specialized in tactical tracking, '' said Gutierrez. “We go through the Guam Police Department or Guam Airport Police Swat, which certifies all my individuals in case we are in a pursuit or for when we do our jungle patrols.”

Members of the JET are also able to attend a jungle course in Hawaii that teaches valuable land navigation skills that can be applied here.

The JET provides a further barrier to prevent anything from coming onto Andersen AFB, which is critical in protecting the base and all personnel. Since the JET was activated the numbers of fence cuts, poachers, trespassers and shots fired have gone down significantly, said Gutierrez.

“I feel grateful knowing that we can protect the base the way we do, '' said Gutierrez. “I have family that lives on base and I know people that live close to the boundary line. It just feels nice to be out there protecting the base and the personnel even though some of them may not even know we’re out there doing it.”