Artillery program increases readiness
CAMP FUJI, Shizuoka, Japan -- More than 300 Marines and sailors departed Okinawa for the East Fuji Maneuver Area in mainland Japan to participate in Artillery Relocation Training Program 12-2 Sept. 1.
The Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, are conducting the training exercise from Sept. 1-30.
The Marines and sailors are conducting the artillery training to enhance unit proficiency and combat readiness while maintaining a commitment to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan. The East Fuji Maneuver Area provides the battalion with training opportunities not available on Okinawa.
Relocation training is conducted at five mainland maneuver areas, including the East Fuji Maneuver area, with the understanding and cooperation of the local government, according to Lt. Col. Jason P. Brown, the commanding officer of 3rd Bn., 12th Marines.
"Our training is focused on the tactical employment of artillery fires against a conventional military opponent," said Brown.
Marines with the battalion will conduct military occupation specialty-specific training as well as gain experience on other elements related to firing artillery.
"This training will provide more experience to the unit," said Lance Cpl. Jose F. Villavicenciopena, a heavy-equipment engineer operator with the battalion. "If you don't go out in the field for training, you won't be able to use the skills your job requires you to know."
Marines benefit from training at the base of Mount Fuji because it provides them an opportunity to train in a different environment and climate.
The schedule for ARTP 12-2 includes 10 days of live-fire training. The unit will perform various training exercises including day and night firing of the M777A2 155 mm howitzer, as well as a small-arms range. There is also a plan for the Marines and sailors to summit Mount Fuji in order to build unit cohesion and esprit de corps.
Shortly after arriving, Brown visited with local mayors and held a press conference to discuss the exercise. He also assured officials and citizens that safety would be paramount throughout training and thanked them for their support.
"This training cannot be conducted successfully without the support of the local government and the community," said Brown. "We are committed to being good neighbors and work hard to lessen the impact on local communities while still pushing forward to mission accomplishment."