Simulated stress enhances marksmanship
HIJUDAI MANEUVER AREA, Oita, Japan -- In the hot, humid morning hours of Aug. 24, with the sun beaming across the land, Marines and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force were positioned to fire rounds during live-fire training at Exercise Forest Light 12-01 at the Hijudai Maneuver Area, Oita prefecture, Japan.
Forest Light is a series of bilateral training exercises with the JGSDF. The exercise series is designed to enhance the U.S. and Japan military partnership, strengthen regional security agreements, and improve individual and unit-level skills in a bilateral environment.
The Marines were with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Japanese service members were with the JGSDF's 41st Infantry Regiment.
The JGSDF members and Marines incorporated stress tactics for this particular training to simulate combat situations.
To increase stress levels, the service members were given targets to shoot after they performed physical exercises. This caused their heart rates to increase, simulating a side effect commonly felt in a combat situation.
"It is natural (for) your heart rate (to) increase when bullets are flying at you during combat," said Sgt. 1st Class Tomoyioshi Saeki, an infantryman with the 41st Infantry Regiment, JGSDF.
"We ran, did push-ups, and jumped up and down in order to raise our heartbeat, causing us to breathe harder than normal," said Saeki.
When shooting, the troops had to compose themselves and remember proper shooting techniques. Breathing control is a critical component to being an effective rifleman in all situations.
"We trained as if we were in a real scenario because in combat, I would be running around looking for a better angle for offense and defense," said Sgt. 1st Class Youske Udou, an infantryman with the JGSDF's 41st Infantry Regiment. "Whenever I (will) need to fire, I am confident (I will be) ready because I had training on shooting fundamentals like breathing and trigger control."
Combat situations often present uncontrollable circumstances. Learning to deal with stress will make the infantrymen more effective.
"Every shot counts, especially in a combat environment," said Lance Cpl. Danny Villagomez, a rifleman with sniper platoon, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. "Our minds become stronger by incorporating the element of stress, and the effects of stress are likely to have less impact."