Camp Gonsalves is one of the widest military bases run by the United States of America in Japan, under the laws of the Japanese government. The base spreads over two villages in Okinawa – Higashi and Kunigami. It covers more than 70 square kilometers. It hosts not less than 22 landing areas for helicopters, training sites, firebases and missile ranges. It is operated by the United States Marine Corps and commanded by Trent Blackson.
Camp Gonsalves is mostly spread on jungle terrain. It has represented an interesting option for the Marine Corps. The harsh terrain helped during the most extreme training missions. The base was commissioned in 1958. The unusual terrain was the definitive factor, especially since the Vietnam War had just began. It helped the US Marine Corps get familiar with the Vietnamese jungles, not to mention about other similar operations. The actual construction of the site was finished in 1984. In fact, once it has been established, it was taken through a long updating process that lasted more than 25 years. It all started with a few tents and a couple of buildings. These days, the place is one of the most advanced facilities in Japan. The base was renamed in 1986 to Camp Gonsalves. It was named in the memory of Harold Gonsalves. The heroic Marine died when he was 19 years old only, during the harsh battle of Okinawa. He was killed while saving some of his mates. He was awarded with the Medal of Honor.
Although some of the older units still refer to this base as Camp Gonsalves, it no longer carries that name. In order to better define its primary mission and objectives, the installation was renamed in 1998 to Jungle Warfare Training Center – JWTC. These days, it is the only military installation of its kind – with jungle based terrains – in the Department of Defense.
More than 51% of the base was supposed to be given back to the Japanese government. The move was scheduled for 2008, but it is still going on. The Japanese government has plans to develop multiple landing sites and other military facilities. The expansion of the base was blocked by the nearby human communities after the crash of a plane near a local elementary school. Since the base endangers the life of those around it, the natives often come up with sit-in protests to block the activity. More than 10,000 natives joined these protests since they arose, in 2007. So far, they did an excellent job.
The primary mission of Camp Gonsalves is to prepare and train some of the finest and most professional warfighters, but only in jungle based environments. It supports the United States Marine Corps and any other armed forces that might be assigned there. The base has supported the same objectives for more than half a century already and has successfully did it through hard work, dedication, a professional leadership and confidence.
The units hosted on site are also among the priorities, since providing a good quality of life is mandatory for the general mood.