MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
U.S. Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force sat in a room filled with maps, aerial photography and detailed building models.
U.S. Marine Capt. Benjamine Howe, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. and the platoon commander of the JGSDF stood before their men and detailed the situation.
Their objective, seize control of key command and control elements and gather all intelligence.
The platoon commanders then inform their men specifics, with information provided by a reconnaissance team at the location.
“At [1 p.m.] Alpha and Bravo team will simultaneously fast rope insert with Alpha heading to the main objective known to have key personnel and gather all intelligence. Bravo team will target enemy barracks and proceed to clear the compound with Alpha team joining them as soon as the main objective is secured,” briefed the Japanese platoon commander. “Bravo team will then radio for extraction.”
U.S. Marines and soldiers with the JGSDF received this brief hours before conducting raid training in urban terrain during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 7, 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.
“These types of operations are extremely effective and are frequently used to go after high valued targets and intelligence gathering,” said Gunnery Sgt. Rob Turek, platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn.
Before any raid can be planned, commanders need information on the target, which is provided by reconnaissance Marines. Information gathered includes enrmy size, activity, location, unit identification time and equipment.
The faster commanders have this information, the higher probability of a successful mission.
“Time is the most important part,” Turek said. “As long as there is real time information available [commanders] can adjust the raid mission.”
Before departing to the objective, Alpha and Bravo teams integrated with the JGSDF, met with their unit leaders who inspected their gear and rehearsed tactics and maneuvers.
After a short flight, both teams were on the ground and within seconds on their objectives.
“Carrying out an operation like this is very fast paced,” Turek said. “Everyone has to be on the same page or else things can go bad quickly.”
Within 20 minutes of the first boots touching the deck, both teams had successfully neutralized all enemy targets, gathered intelligence and secured the town.
The training capped two weeks of multiple exercises between the two units.
“Over all it was very successful,” Turek said. “The integrated teams met their objectives in a timely manner and no one got hurt. It’s been a great experience working with the [JGSDF]. We learned a lot from each other.”