Artillery Marines battle clock during training
YAUSUBETSU MANEUVER AREA, HOKKAIDO, Japan -- Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, engaged in artillery relocation training June 9 at Yausubetsu Maneuver Area, Hokkaido, Japan, in support of artillery relocation training program 13-1.
The Marines of 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, include members of Battery C, 1st Bn., 12th Marines, and Battery F, 2nd Bn., 10th Marines, both currently assigned to 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.
“The Marines came to Yausubetsu to conduct both battery and battalion events,” said 1st Lt. John A. Sheehan, a platoon commander with Battery F.
The focus of the training was to test the battalion’s ability to shoot, move, and communicate in a rapid manner, according to Sheehan.
When it is not shooting, the battalion is moving. Beginning with the advance party, Marines scouted ahead looking for the next designated gun position for the main body.
The remaining battalion elements convoyed to an area where six howitzers were set up at a predetermined position.
When told to dismount, the Marines began working on a number of mission-essential tasks within a 10-minute window for completion. The howitzers were aligned to their position of fire, holes were dug to place the weapons’ spades into the ground, a net were raised over the 7-ton trucks and howitzers to conceal their location, and M240B medium machine gun was set into position. Emplacements such as this occurred multiple times a day.
The terrain made the process difficult since the training area in northern Japan was different from what many of the artillerymen in the battalion were used to, according to Cpl. Ioan V. Cardos, a field artillery cannoneer with Battery F.
“The terrain here is more challenging compared to back home,” said Cardos, referring to Camp Lejeune, N.C. “Being here gives us a chance to train and prepare in case we see rough terrain like this again. The ground is not level and there are a lot of hills and trees, which makes it hard to maneuver from one firing position to another.”
Once in a shooting position, the Marines on the gun line waited for a fire mission from the fire direction center before they began the next set of tasks associated with loading and firing the howitzers.
The overall purpose of artillery is to support the infantry with accurate and timely indirect fire, but the ability to provide such valuable support would not happen without hard-working Marines, according to Sheehan.
“The Marines on the gun line understand they need to move and set up quickly to get back to firing,” said Sheehan. “Every time you see them, they are dusty, soaked with sweat, and working as fast as they can. They understand that when we are in place, we are providing supporting fire to our brothers in the infantry.”