JGSDF members, Marines strengthen relationships
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines with Combat Assault Battalion engaged in bilateral training alongside Japan Ground Self-Defense Force officers March 1 at the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen as part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program.
The JGSDF officers and Marines inserted into the CTA via MV-22B Osprey aircraft, and proceeded to conduct a six-mile conditioning hike. It was the first opportunity for the participating JGSDF officers to fly in the Ospreys, which are part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The learning experience offered through JOEP events is unparalleled, according to JGSDF 1st Lt. Shomei Ugaki, an intelligence platoon leader and participant in the JOEP.
“The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the most experienced military services in the world,” said Ugaki. “They have learned a lot from combat operations, and quickly applied lessons learned to their training. It is a very good experience for us to learn alongside the Marines.”
The exchange of information and experience was mutual during the hike and flight.
“It was a good experience — I learned a lot about Japan and how their forces operate,” said 2nd Lt. Jason J. Romero, a platoon commander with CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “I was also able to answer questions they had about the Marine Corps, which is important because it helps strengthen relationships between us and the JGSDF.”
The JGSDF officers and Marines were able to overcome the language barrier to train successfully together due to mutual professionalism, according to Ugaki.
“Even though both forces speak different languages, we still conduct bilateral training very successfully,” said Ugaki. “It is very important for us and our allies that we have a chance to share our experiences.”
The conditioning hike brought the two services together and further strengthened the foundation of their relationship.
Both U.S. Marines and JGSDF officers look forward to further interactions, as it is an essential part of both services’ roles in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Cpl. Alexander F. Orlosky, a combat engineer with the battalion.
“It lets us see both sides of the spectrum,” said Orlosky. “I would work with these guys any day.”
The conditioning hike built not only bonds, but endurance as well, preparing Marines and the JGSDF officers for future training together.