US, Japanese forces conclude Rising Thunder with urban assault course
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- Loud shots echoed across the training area as the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment and the 12th Regiment, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, maneuvered through the urban assault course Monday, Sept. 19.
The course was the culminating event of Rising Thunder 2016, an annual bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. The assault was composed of U.S. and Japanese infantry platoons, a Japanese tank section, and U.S. and Japanese sniper sections.
"My team was the sniper section, made up of a sniper section leader and a single sniper team, which consists of three men," said 1st Lt. John Temme, scout platoon leader with 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division.
"[Our] task was to provide support by fire and take out targets of opportunity in the village, allowing our tanks and our Stryker platoon to set up their support by fire position."
As the sniper team continued to clear enemy scouts, Japanese main battle tanks, along with U.S. Strykers, assembled out on the field to provide additional support by fire. The formation allowed for the Soldiers to dismount and assume their fighting positions.
"It's important to … maintain an open line of communication," said Sgt. Brandon Queen, a sniper team leader with 2-1 Infantry. "To be able to relay back and forth precise information, such as which targets we are seeing and engaging, so that we are all on the same page and not shooting incorrect targets."
A while after the tanks and Strykers began their assault, Japanese light armored vehicles proceeded toward the left flank of the village to set up firing positions. As the last piece of the mission, the Japanese service members moved in to clear the village.
For the past three weeks, U.S. and Japanese service members have trained vigorously alongside each other. They shared their knowledge and tactical experiences and worked to enhance their skill sets and strengthen their relationship.
Temme and his Soldiers said they learned a great deal from comparing their best tactics and techniques to those of their Japanese partners.
"It helps us take a step back and look at how we're doing on our side of the mission," Temme observed. "It also helps us see other cultures. I think it's something that, for me and a lot of Soldiers, we will never see or interact with Japanese people the way we have here, and that's just a great opportunity."