“Thundering Third” departs for Forest Light

“Thundering Third” departs for Forest Light

by Lance Cpl. Joey S. Holeman Jr.
Okinawa Marine Staff

Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, departed Feb. 22 for Sekiyama Training Area, Eastern Honshu, Japan, to participate in Exercise Forest Light 14-2.

Forest Light is a bilateral exercise between the “Thundering Third” 3rd Bn., 1st Marines, and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members with the 2nd Infantry Regiment, 12th Brigade, with the JGSDF Eastern Army. The exercise will consist of command post and field training events that will build stronger relationships with the JGSDF.

“During Forest Light, we will be doing cold-weather training and partnering with the Japanese to learn how they operate in cold weather,” said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Michael C. Del Favero, a platoon commander with Co. I, 3rd Bn., 1st Marines, currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.

Operating in these types of conditions is vastly different from training in California where these Marines are stationed, according to Favero.

During the cold-weather training, Marines will be learning and training with their Japanese counterparts to familiarize themselves with a foreign ally.

“It is good for us to train with other countries because you don’t know when we will be called into a big situation where we have to work with our allies,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jorge A. Calderon, a platoon sergeant with the company. “It’s good to know what their training consists of along with them learning about ours.”

During the exercise, Marines and JGSDF members will train together to improve their cold-weather survival skills, basic helicopter operations and snow maneuver training to increase inteoperability with each other.
Exercise Forest Light will also give Marines a chance to experience the unique culture of Japan.

“We will be integrating with them in a cultural capacity too,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Jordan C. Lee, a squad leader with the company. “We are going to go out and have a chance to meet some of their family members and learn their customs and (traditions).”

JGSDF and U.S. service members have a long relationship of training with one another.

“Definitely coming together in unit readiness is going to be huge,” said Lee. “I think they are going to build a lot of camaraderie out of spending a lot of time in close quarters together.”

So far, the Thundering Third’s Okinawa-based training has consisted of company-sized attacks and squad-level tactics, but it has yet to work in cold weather, leaving the Marines with a challenge ahead.

“We haven’t done any cold-weather (training), but Marines will adapt and overcome,” said Calderon.
Forest Light demonstrates the continued commitment of the U.S. and Japan to increase interoperability of their forces and maintain a strong partnership to protect Japan from external aggression.

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