NAVAL AMPHIBIOUS BASE CORONADO, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force ended a weeklong training on amphibious raids in support of Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., Feb. 3, 2014.
Iron Fist is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units, and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training.
The training began by categorizing the Japanese soldiers into their military specialties of scout swimmers, coxswain and maritime navigators.
“This is important so the [JGSDF] are on the same page as the [instructors] with curriculum,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Soetaert, staff non-commissioned officer, Amphibious Raids, EWTG Pacific. “This also allows them to fine tune their individual skill sets.”
After a day of classes, it was time for the Japanese soldiers to test their skills on the water using a Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft.
“These are the same kind of water crafts the [JGSDF] use,” Soetaert said. “They don’t have surf like we do here, so the real benefit comes from getting to train in rougher waters.”
The Japanese soldiers also received training on how to operate as a company size force using 12 CRRCs instead of three.
“Working with 12 CRRCs is very difficult,” Soetaert said. “Getting everyone on the same page is challenging, but they have done a great job so far.”
After three days of conducting amphibious insertions and clandestine landing withdrawals, the Japanese soldiers conducted two nighttime-amphibious raids on an objective in frigid waters.
The Japanese soldiers positioned themselves and prepared for the assault 1,100 meters off the coast.
A platoon of Japanese soldiers advanced to 500 meters from the coast and inserted scout swimmers. Swiftly and silently, the scout swimmers secured the beach and radioed back the all clear.
The all clear signaled the start of the next stage of the amphibious raid as the Japanese soldiers made their way to the beach one platoon at a time.
“The real pressure here lies with the coxswain, who has the hardest job throughout the night training.” Soetaert said.
The coxswain is the person in charge of navigating the CRRC through the surf, which consisted of swells as high as six feet.
“If they don’t clear the surf right, there is a good chance of flipping the [CRRC].” Soetaert added. “If that happens, someone may get hurt.”
Conquering the surf, the Japanese soldiers successfully occupied the beach and completed their mission.
“This is what they do,” said Gunnery Sgt. Harold A. Young, course director, Coxswain Skills Course, EWTG Pacific. “They are very proficient at it and we’re really here to assist with their training and trade knowledge on how we conduct [amphibious raids].”