JGSDF members, Marines brave elements, accomplish mission
HOKKAIDO, Japan -- As if operating in a simulated hostile territory with a language barrier between friendly forces wasn’t challenging enough, the combination of subzero temperatures, howling winds and snowfall measuring in feet added a level of misery that made mission accomplishment nearly impossible.
However, these service members were well trained and dedicated to success above all else, overcoming the elements and simulated enemy in impressive fashion.
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members and Marines conducted a comprehensive bilateral field training exercise March 2-3 during Exercise Forest Light 13-3 at the Hokkaido-Dai Maneuver Area, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan.
The FTX consisted of the two countries’ combining forces in offensive and defensive positions and clearing and securing a simulated objective in their area of operations. The ground forces also had support from a combined combat operations center.
In the combined COC, Marines and JGSDF members worked together to coordinate fire support, track friendly and enemy movement, and analyze the enemy situation and terrain.
The FTX required both forces to use and apply the communication and cooperative skills learned throughout the exercise to accomplish their mission, according to 2nd Lt. Matthew G. Goggin, a platoon commander with Company I (Reinforced), 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.
“This final training evolution proved that we can communicate and operate together effectively in highly stressful situations,” said Goggin. “There was a lot to learn from each other. We had ideas on how to improve their fire packages, and they taught us about maneuvering in snowy terrain. I feel confident in our abilities together after this training.”
The FTX began with the Marines and JGSDF members patrolling separately on foot and with mechanized vehicles to reach an area where they set up a defensive position. When they linked up, the two countries combined forces to prepare to clear and secure the objective the next morning.
“I enjoyed watching the capabilities of our combined forces,” said JGSDF Col. Naoki Yamane, the commanding officer of the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Armored Division, Northern Army, JGSDF. “You can see the proficiency and skills the Marines have in the way they move. As our forces have never been deployed to combat, we have much we can learn from the Marines and their experiences.”
More than the other training events during Forest Light 13-3, communication was most important during the final FTX, according to Lance Cpl. Masami D. Rouse, a machine gunner and interpreter with the battalion.
“We worked very well together to break the language barrier and clear and secure the objective,” said Rouse. “The most fulfilling part for me was when the Marines and JGSDF members took the objective together rather than separately. You could see both forces using everything they had learned throughout the exercise in order to accomplish the final mission.”
Both countries forces gained important experience and extensive knowledge while working together throughout Forest Light 13-3, according to Goggin.
“With all of the improvements seen in this final FTX, I’m confident in saying we accomplished what we set out to do during the exercise,” said Goggin.