YAMATO, KUMAMOTO PREFECTURE, Japan -- U.S. Marine Corps scout snipers collaborated with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force snipers during a lesson in stalking Dec. 2 in the Oyanohara Training Area in Yamato, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan.
The training is part of Forest Light 15-1, a semi-annual, bilateral exercise consisting of a command post exercise and field training events conducted by elements of III Marine Expeditionary Force and the JGSDF.
The Marines worked alongside the JGSDF scout snipers to improve their abilities in camouflage techniques, stalking when moving through open and wooded areas and the different movement techniques that can be used while stalking.
“These techniques are important to us as snipers because we need to be able to move undetected into different areas and be able to set up and engage selected targets,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Joseph Armistead, a scout sniper with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, currently attached to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, under the unit deployment program. “Showing the JGSDF how to do this and increase their knowledge on it will make them better at their task as well.”
Forest Light demonstrates the continued commitment of the U.S. and Japan to increase interoperability of our armed forces and maintain a strong partnership to protect Japan from external aggression.
“I believe that this bilateral training is important because it’s building our friendship and communications with them … bridging that gap between our culture and theirs,” said Armistead, from Seymour, Tennessee. “Another importance is they have different methods on how to perform the same task we do. So we share our ideas and at the end of it we both become better.”
The language barrier gives the two sides an added challenge during the bilateral training, but in the end they both manage to get their messages across, according to U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jonas G. Dewald, from Wilson, North Carolina.
“It has been more difficult than I thought it would be,” said Dewald, a machine gunner with the company. “Things tend to get lost in translation, especially when we are trying to hit all the little details and really improve our stalking abilities. I think the main idea was conveyed in the end though.”
The same group of Marines is scheduled to continue to work with the JGSDF snipers throughout the exercise.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the JGSDF,” said Dewald. “They have been very professional, very humble and eager to learn, which is great. I’m looking forward to some of the stalk lanes later this week that we have planned. I’m hoping to see them put some of the skills we taught them today into action.”
The JGSDF snipers agreed learning from Marines with combat experience is a valuable addition to their training regimen.
“I think it’s great that we share our experience with each other,” said JGSDF Staff Sgt. Junichi Tachikawa, a scout sniper with 42nd Regiment, 8th Division, Western Army, JGSDF. “I hope to continue these types of exercises in the future.”