SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. --
U.S. Marines from 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and soldiers with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force sit on top of a hillside and watch smoke blow through the hills below them.
Minutes after talking to the naval ship in the distance, rounds fly from its shadow and blow up the targets below.
During this live-fire portion of Exercise Iron Fist 2014, the Japanese observers practiced conducting fire-support missions with air support, naval gunfire, 120mm, 81mm and 60mm mortars aboard San Clemente Island, Calif., Feb. 12-14.
Iron Fist 2014 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.
1st ANGLICO and the JGSDF have been working together for the past few weeks. The Marines with 1st ANGLICO ensured the JGSDF were ready to think on their feet for this live-fire portion of the exercise.
“What we’ll do is we’ll give them a plan, and like any other good Marine training, we’ll change the plan immediately upon execution and see how they react,” said Capt. Michael Christman, air officer, 1st Brigade, 1st ANGLICO. “They really have to think on their feet and dynamically adjust to a changing battlefield.”
This type of training prepares soldiers with JGSDF for real combat situations.
“In a real combat environment the enemy doesn’t stay still,” Christman said. “You always have to change with the enemy and get ahead of them.”
The weeks of training paid off when the soldiers with the JGSDF were conducting fire-support coordination in English to their Marine and Japanese counterparts providing fire-support.
When they first came, English was a struggle for them, Christman said. Getting through that language barrier was the first step.
“We’ve created a baseline so a lot of the terms and techniques are standardized,” Christman said. “Once we reach that then we really see them begin to think outside the box, and once we throw [obstacles] at them they start [working through the problems] rather than just stopping.”
Later in the exercise, 1st ANGLICO will help the Japanese provide fire support capabilities so they can integrate with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, during an amphibious landing aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif.