Artillerymen receive assault amphibious vehicle familiarization at Camp Fuji
CAMP FUJI, Shizuoka, Japan -- Marines with 12th Marine Regiment received assault amphibious vehicle familiarization training with members of Combat Assault Battalion Jan. 24 in the North Fuji Maneuver Area at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji on mainland Japan.
The training was part of Exercise Fire Dragon 13-2, a regimental artillery exercise taking place at CATC Camp Fuji throughout January and February.
“Each week, we conduct route patrols with our AAVs while we are training at Fuji, so we invited some of the Marines from 12th Marine Regiment to go on the patrol with us,” said Cpl. Christopher M. Ault, an AAV crew chief with CAB, part of 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “While on the patrol, we took contact from Marines acting as oppositional forces and were able to display how a convoy of AAVs responds to hostile forces.”
The patrol was an excellent way to demonstrate the capabilities of AAVs to the artillerymen, according to Staff Sgt. Alan E. Simmons, a howitzer section chief with 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
“I was able to spend most of the patrol in the troop commander’s seat, which allowed me to observe how the driver operates the vehicle, how the weapons turret functions, and how the convoy reacts and maneuvers when ambushed,” said Simmons.
The Marines with CAB familiarized the artillerymen through instruction and firsthand experience with the AAVs.
“At one point, the convoy reached a landing zone in the maneuver area,” said Simmons. “We dismounted the vehicles there and the crew members gave us a period of instruction on the driving controls for an AAV. Following that period of instruction, the crew chiefs then gave our Marines the opportunity to drive the AAVs under their supervision.”
The opportunity to operate an AAV came as a surprise to most of the Marines, according to Pfc. Nathan E. Craig, a motor transport operator with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.
“There was not a single Marine who passed on the chance to drive,” said Craig. “As a motor transport operator, I mostly drive 7-ton trucks. Before I joined the Marine Corps, I operated bulldozers and other heavy equipment, so I was interested to learn how to drive the AAV.”
The familiarization on AAV operations and capabilities was beneficial for all the Marines involved, as it will aid in future operations and training between the regiment and battalion, according to Ault.
“Training together helps us know what type of fire support we can call in from the regiment and what kind of support we can provide them with our AAVs,” said Ault. “Ultimately, this type of training is effective because it provides the chance to experience Marine Corps’ capabilities outside of a Marine’s daily job and strengthens our ability to fight as one team.”