CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- After three years in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, 1st Lt. Ryota Hasebe finally got his chance to work with the U.S. Marines.
Hasebe, 28, joined the JGSDF in 2011 as an artillery officer, for two reasons.
“I joined because my father is a former (Japan Ground Self-Defense) Officer and I really, really respect him, said Hasebe, from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. “The second reason I joined (was) to protect my country, family and friends.”
Hasebe went to Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, Japan and studied Chinese Literature, before training for 18 months to become an artillery officer. Hasebe was a forward observer for two years before becoming the battalion fire direction control officer for 1st Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment.
Hasebe’s responsibilities as an artillery man with the JGSDF are to plan battalion training and to run the battalion’s fire direction control.
While working as an artillery officer he became curious about how other countries artillery men perform. So, he decided to participate in an officer exchange program, which attached him to 3rd Battalion 12th Marine Regiment for two months so he could learn about the U.S. Marine Corps’ artillery men.
“I studied a lot about the Marines and was very interested in how they work and I wanted to learn more about them,” said Hasebe. “I attached to 3/12 with an officer exchange program and I got to go to ITX with the Marines.”
Hasebe went to Twentynine Palms, California for Integrated Training Exercise 2-15 with 3rd Bn. 12th Marines, an artillery unit, under 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Okinawa, Japan.
The officer exchange program gives Japan Self-Defense Force personnel the opportunity to work with and observe training of their counterparts in order to build a greater understanding of each other, according to Hasebe.
"Participating in ITX was very interesting to me,” said Hasebe. “I saw a lot of unit maneuvers where everyone worked together. Artillery, mortars, tanks, fixed-wing aircraft and rotor-wing aircraft were all working together to complete one mission.”
ITX brings the four elements of a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force; the aviation combat element, ground combat element, logistics combat element and a command element; to Twentynine Palms, California. Because Twentynine Palms training area is so large, three-quarters the size of Rhode Island, it gives the four elements the ability to plan together and execute full live-fire missions.
While working with the U.S. Marines, Hasebe learned more about his job as an artillery officer, the differences between the JGSDF and U.S. Marine howitzers and how infantry units maneuver with fire support.
“Participating in ITX was very interesting to me, and the most impressive thing about it is the reality training,” said Hasebe. “The Marines did a lot of unit maneuvers with different types of fire support: artillery, mortars, fixed and rotor-wing aircraft.”
“In Japan, most of the training areas are very small, so we don’t have the chance to do large maneuvers with fire support,” said Hasebe. “This is a new experience for me to see the planning phase put into action with full live-fire capabilities.”
Hasebe said he learned a lot about how to do his job and about the U.S. Marines while he was attached to 3/12. He is attached to 3/12 for two months starting Jan. 11 and ending March 13.
“I really appreciate all 3/12 members, because they helped me learn more about the Marines,” said Hasebe. “The officer exchange program is a great opportunity and anyone who is interested in other militaries should participate.”
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