CATC Fuji: Training ground of warriors

13 May 2016 | Cpl. Daniel Jean-Paul III Marine Expeditionary Force

At the base of Mount Fuji lies the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji. CATC Fuji has provided the Marine Corps with a forward-based platform for vital training, troop readiness and force projection.

As far back as 1198 A.D., the training grounds that lie in the shadows of Mount Fuji have been used to train elite fighting forces. First it was the samurai of the Kamakura Shogunate, today the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji provides Marine Corps Installations Pacific with a vital forward based platform for training, readiness, and force projection.

“As Marines we’re trained in the warrior ethos from the moment you enter boot camp,” Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Burry, the Camp Fuji operations chief. “That’s what makes the training here so special. Marines are training on the same ground where some of the greatest warriors the world has ever seen honed their skills. You can’t get that anywhere else in the Marine Corps.”

When the Shogunate fell, the Imperial Japanese Army took over until the surrender of Japan after World War II. The U.S. Army took over the training area in order to prepare their troops for the terrain and hardships of the Korean War. In 1953 the base was turned over to the USMC, where it remains today as an essential training ground for Marine Corps Installation Pacific and III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“Camp Fuji supports training across all aspects of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” said Col. Todd R. Finley, the commanding officer of CATC Fuji. “It has the capacity to support anything from MAGTF level operations to company level training movements.”

With more than 300 acres of live-fire ranges and maneuver areas, along with a flight line, provide realistic, valuable training opportunities required to ensure combat readiness of US forces stationed throughout the Pacific. The large scale combined arms training exercises, including live-fire artillery ranges, cannot be completed anywhere else in the region. 

“CATC provides the continuity units need to stay mission ready,” said Burry. “Not only do we give them a unique training opportunity they cannot get anywhere else, but Camp Fuji’s environment provides unique training factors and challenges.”

Well above sea level, the altitude of CATC Fuji provides some of the roughest training environment in the world. 

According to Burry, Units must hike up steep hills to reach the training grounds, and if that was not enough, the thin air and harsh winters require even the heartiest of men to pause.

“We can get up to two feet of snow on the ground some winters,” explained Burry. “The elevations and harsh winters create a unique and extreme training environment. When we train in such extreme conditions, it makes it easier to go out into real situations and complete our mission.”

Located two-and-a-half miles from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Fuji, training units regularly participate in infantry level training simulations with JGSDF soldiers, strengthening relationship between Japan and the United States. When not running and gunning in the field, JGSDF and CATC Fuji conduct exchange programs, where noncommissioned officers from both camps visit the others resident professional military education programs to learn about each other traditions and customs.

According to Finley, these exchange programs play an important role in forging an everlasting partnership with JGSDF. 

“Being this close to our counterparts allows us to build friendships and successful working and training relationships,” said Finley.

Rich in a warrior history and full of extremes, Camp Fuji plays a pivotal role in MCIPAC’s mission to provide the Marine Corps with a forward-based platform for vital training, troop readiness and force projection while also fostering critical partnerships in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region.