Bilateral Exercise Forest Light concludes
HIJUDAI MANEUVER AREA, Oita, Japan -- As service members wait for battle orders, they position themselves and get ready to make the next move. The muddy terrain is soon left behind with boot, tire and track marks as they move forward while suppressing the mock enemy.
Members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, together with U.S. Marines and sailors, contributed to the success of Exercise Forest Light 12-01 Aug. 19-30 at the Hijudai Maneuver Area, Oita prefecture, Japan.
Marines and sailors with Combat Assault Battalion and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, both a part of 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in the exercise alongside Japanese service members with the JGSDF's 41st Infantry Regiment.
Forest Light is a series of bilateral training exercises between III MEF and JGSDF units. The exercises are designed to enhance the U.S. and Japanese partnership, strengthen regional security agreements, and improve individual and unit-level skills in a bilateral environment.
"The exercise has been a success," said 1st Lt. Matthew D. Biesecker, a logistics officer with CAB. "The coordination with logistics, operations and (the) JGSDF played a huge role in a successful operation in the field."
During the exercise, service members were given opportunities to sharpen their skills and display their warfighting knowledge.
"Some of our main concerns were to grow a better understanding of each other's techniques in combat situations," said Sgt. Taro Miyoshi, an anti-tank specialist with the 41st Infantry Regiment, JGSDF. "We were able to hone our combat skills in light-infantry tactics, our medical evacuation procedures and our communication with U.S. service members."
The focal point throughout the exercise was the improvement of combat readiness and communication between the JGSDF and Marines. During the final field training event, service members executed a forward and backward passage of lines on the battlefield.
In a passage of lines, one unit first sets a defensive position. The passage of lines occurs when another unit moves forward or backward past the defensive unit's boundary line. Then, the moving unit sets up in an offensive or defensive position in order to carry on the overall mission.
"All the training and cohesion with the U.S. military benefitted everyone because we were able to work in a simulated combat environment, as a single unit, (practicing) offensive and defensive tactics (while) giving each other support," said Sgt. Kanzaki Koki, a meteorologist with the 41st Infantry Regiment, JGSDF. "The time and effort has not gone unseen because we were able to prove that together, we can always move forward on and off the field."
According to Biesecker, no matter the time or task, service members were able to handle every task effectively and successfully.
The success of the exercise illustrates the importance of the bilateral training and cohesion of Marines working alongside JGSDF members while enhancing combat readiness.