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NEWS | Oct. 29, 2014

Orient Shield 14 begins with a Bang

By 1st Lt. Amy Hanna

The first day of Orient Shield 14 field training brought U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members together to observe each others mortar systems in action here, Oct. 28.

Orient Shield 14, an annual bilateral training exercise brings Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and JGSDF together to share military experiences, tactics and weapon systems. The exercise takes place Oct. 27 - Nov. 7.

During the live-fire exercise, the JGSDF showcased their Type 96 track vehicle and saw the U.S. Stryker fighting vehicle for the first time.

The JGSDF's Type 96 track vehicle is similar to the U.S. Stryker wheeled fighting vehicle as they both fire a 120-millimeter mortar system.

The U.S. Stryker is an eight-wheeled tactical vehicle with a five-man crew, including commander, driver, gunner, assistant gunner and ammunition bearer. The Stryker provides indirect fire support for ground troops.

Pvt. 1st Class Devin Gentry, a fire support specialist with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, provided a tour of the Stryker's cockpit and interior to JGSDF Sgt. Masatoshi Kawashima, a Heavy Mortar Company forward observer assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Armor Division.

"I am impressed by the Stryker; I want to drive the Stryker," Kawashima exclaimed.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Queck, platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company Mortar Platoon, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, the Type 96 track vehicle-120mm mortar system uses similar firing commands.

"They give orders to their gunners just like we do; if the two forces had to work together we'd just have to make a language adjustment," Queck said.

"We're very grateful to have this opportunity to train with our Japanese counterparts, even though they have track vehicles and ours are wheeled and light, we are still learning a lot from each other," Queck said.

"The JGSDF are also very grateful for the opportunity for us to come here to train with them and we're taking advantage of every second we can to learn as much as we can from each other," Queck added.

"I am very excited to be working with the U.S Soldiers and the best part of working with the U.S. is the good synchronization of training," said Cpt. Yuichi Tjuji, company commander of the Heavy Mortar Company of the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Armor Division.

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