MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- As soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force sprint across a grassy field, they drop into the prone and begin to fire.
Through the smoke of the blasts, they look up on the hillside and see U.S. Marines buddy rushing towards their objective to provide support.
Again, the JGSDF soldiers rush forward toward their next objective and engage the enemy.
For the Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, training that involves pushing toward and engaging the enemy is normal.
This made the training conducted Feb. 5-10 was a good opportunity to share their experiences with the JGSDF who have limited opportunities to conduct this training in Japan.
This training evolution was part of the on going Exercise Iron Fist 2014, taking place aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. 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 purpose of the training was to practice operating together and conducting joint combined arms, as well as building a relationship with their allies, said Capt. Richard Shinn, company commander, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.
During the first few days of training, the JGSDF soldiers fired their weapon systems, such as the 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle and FN minimi machine gun, and observed how U.S. Marines operated their 60 and 81mm mortar systems.
JGSDF soldiers and Marines also compared the different weapons and the way they used them. They realized a lot is similar; for example, the FN minimi machine gun and M240 medium machine gun are assembled and disassembled almost identically.
Marines observed that the JGSDF are very professional, meticulous and safety conscious, Shinn said. They are also very technically and tactfully proficient.
The training concluded with a combined company attack with the support of a U.S. platoon. The Japanese pushed through the range assaulting objectives while the U.S. Marines observed and provided assistance from nearby.
Later during the exercise, Marines and soldiers with the JGSDF will work together again to conduct a combined amphibious attack.