By Lance Cpl. Danielle Prentice, 10th Marine Regiment
CATC CAMP FUJI, SHIZUOKA, JAPAN -- Located at the base of the highest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji, is a premier training venue that is put to great use by U.S. armed forces and the Japan Self-Defense Force.
Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji in Shizouka, Japan, provides training facilities capable of supporting Marine Air-Ground Task Force level training requirements, which is the heart of the Marine Corps warfighting doctrine.
The MAGTF is made up of four core elements: a command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element, and logistics element. This organizational structure, in which the Marine Corps fights, integrates both air and ground assets to achieve a combined arms effect. CATC Fuji allows the Corps and its sister services to train and improve their abilities in the Pacific.
“CATC Camp Fuji provides a premier training venue in the Pacific,” said Col. Christopher R. Escamilla, the commanding officer of CATC Camp Fuji. “Its 34,000 acres of training area provides a venue to forward deployed forces from all branches of service to enhance their combat readiness.”
In 1912, the Imperial Army established the Fuji Maneuver Area and several surrounding bases including: Camp Takigahara, Camp Itazuma, and Camp Komakado. After World War II, the United States Army occupied these bases; in 1953, what is now known as, Camp Fuji, was transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. For more than 60 years, CATC Camp Fuji has provided space for the execution of artillery, aviation and maneuver training.
"The maneuver areas are unique and some of the best I've seen,” Maj. Caleb Reed, the operations officer with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “In other training venues around the world, you find vast openness with no concealment or densely-wooded regions with difficult mobility. CATC Fuji allows units to effectively maneuver with cover and concealment and enables high-quality infantry training."
According to Reed there is an austerity in the atmosphere of Camp Fuji that brings a much deeper focus to training and unit cohesion. These attributes create an exclusive experience for service members and some of the best combined-arms training available in the world.
"Camp Fuji allows Marines to capitalize on the individual and squad-level training they have conducted, and apply that training on a much larger scale,” said Reed.
According to Escamilla, CATC Camp Fuji is the only place in the region, which spans roughly three-fourths of the globe, which Marines have to enhance their combined arms capabilities. This has led to the center’s growing reputation of excellence. All branches of the U.S. armed forces and elements of the Japan Self-Defense Force seek to improve their readiness and capabilities aboard the camp.
“The demand for units to train here has increased dramatically. That’s a good thing,” added Escamilla.
To meet this demand, MCIPAC looks to the future and ways to optimize training opportunities.
"Our mission is to prepare and provide installation support to III MEF operating forces, from maneuver areas and ranges to taking care of service members and families - the whole nine yards,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Rock Jr., commanding general of MCIPAC. “I see our operational forces as the arrow and the installations of MCIPAC as the archer's bow; we must be strong so the arrow flies true. Understanding the MEF's needs and our capabilities to support are key, and Camp Fuji makes that happen."