HOKKAIDO, Japan -- U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and Soldiers from 5th Brigade, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, train to traverse through rough and snowy terrain at exercise Northern Viper 2020, in Hokudaien Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Jan. 24, 2020.
Exercise Northern Viper offers a unique opportunity for Marines from throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force to train alongside the Soldiers of the JGSDF. For the Soldiers of the Northern Army, this snowy mountainous landscape is home. For many of the Marines participating, however, this is their first experience training in the snow.
2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment is a unit hailing from Oahu, Hawaii. As part of the Unit Deployment Program, they join the 4th Marine Regiment in Okinawa for six months before returning to the Aloha State. During this six month period they found themselves in Hokkaido for exercise Northern Viper, and they couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
“The 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines call sign is the ‘Island Warriors’ so this is a pretty big adjustment for the Marines,” said Lt. Col. Christopher McGuire, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. He continued, “this is a big adjustment for the Marines but we’re quickly learning that the ‘Island Warriors’ are also ‘Winter Warriors’ and they’re doing a fantastic job.”
While at exercise Northern Viper, U.S. Marines and JGSDF Soldiers will train in cross country skiing, weighted skiing, and skiing with a weapon. The training will significantly improve the Marines’ ability to act in a harsh snowy environment. It also will allow Marines and JGSDF a rare opportunity to train together on a large scale.
The ability to bilaterally respond to any threat, crisis, or humanitarian disaster in the region is a cornerstone of the U.S.-Japan alliance.
“They live in the cold environment and they train here all year round,” McGuire said of the Northern Army Soldiers. “To be trained by them and get to fight on their home turf alongside them is a huge help for our Marines.”
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