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By Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo
Hundreds of U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members headed for the mountains to defend sovereign territory and defeat a fictional enemy during a simulated combat field training exercise here, Nov 3-5.
The 72-hour field exercise puts to the test what Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and JGSDF members from the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, Northern Army have been rehearsing for the past week and a half.
“The benefit of spending this time together allows us to work in unison as one team. Although we will fight separately, we have one common goal - defend and help secure a peaceful allied country,” said Capt. Andrew Julian, an operations officer assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The exercise brings U.S. Soldiers to Japan to honor the alliance and work together with Japan’s defense force to regain sovereign territory against an armed invasion.
Each force has a list of objectives they must complete throughout the exercise as they work their way through the mountainous terrain to reach their final objective. Opposing them is a contingent of U.S. Army Soldiers playing the “enemy” who will attempt to disrupt their actions.
“We use different tactics and procedures, but knowing each other’s capabilities and how each of us operates in advance helps us support one another,” said Julian.
Throughout the field exercise the U.S. Army and JGSDF forces are putting into play a host of skills and techniques they shared and demonstrated over the past ten days.
Infantry Soldiers have been brushing-up on map reading skills for navigating unknown terrain. Together with their JGSDF counterparts they have been reinforcing combat skills including moving under direct fire, engaging targets while moving in a confined area and reacting quickly to unstable targets, as well as sniper marksmanship, explained Capt. Robert Lee, an operations officer with the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.
Armored mechanized counterparts have been exchanging techniques and demonstrating maneuver capabilities through mortar and tank live fire exercises.
In preparing for the field training exercise aviators from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment from Wheeler Field, Hi., have been working together with their counterparts conducting close combat air attacks, air assault missions, aeromedical evacuations and aircraft refueling.
The enemy is not real, but the challenges U.S. Army Soldiers face are. They are enduring cold, wet and muddy conditions to traverse miles of unfamiliar landscape and using the combat skills and tactics they have been rehearsing.
Although the enemy is make believe, there’s a specific operational planning process that is completed long before Soldiers move to the field.
This process involves studying all aspects of the area Soldiers will be training in, to include weather, terrain and vegetation, potential obstacles and the makeup and capabilities of the hypothetical enemy forces they face, Julian explained.
This same process takes place for all military actions whether in training or in actual combat.
According to Julian, both forces expended a great deal of time planning and rehearsing the complex tactical movements and maneuvers they are conducting throughout the exercise.
“This not only allows us to be successful in the exercise but also helps us build a partner force with our counterparts,” Julian emphasized.
“Everything we have been doing over the past two-weeks has built a very strong foundation for this culminating event,” said Julian.
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