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Marine tactics help prepare Japanese for Iraq duty

Date Posted: 2004-08-05

CAMP FUJI, Japan — Marines demonstrated security and stability operations, like those currently in use in Iraq, for a contingent of Japan Self Defense Force officers here July 23.

The demonstration was conducted to help prepare the next group of JSDF soldiers for an upcoming deployment to Iraq.

According to Col. Ronald F. Baczkowski, 4th Marine Regiment commanding officer, Camp Fuji is an appropriate location for this historic moment in the history of cooperation between the Marine Corps and the JSDF. For years, both forces have shared the training ranges here and the SASO training will allow the JSDF to borrow the lessons learned in Iraq by Marines and integrate them into their own training.

The JSDF soldiers also saw what is becoming the norm for Marines in training and combat environments: the melding of active duty and reserve Marine units.

In this case, Marines with 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, and Combat Logistics Company-33, 3rd Force Service Support Group, supported the Marine reservists with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, who were already in place for their part in Fuji Integrated Training Program 2004.

The Marines first showed the JSDF officers the tent housing the combat operations center, which is maintained by 4th Marines, and explained its role on the battlefield.

“We can have the COC up and running in under one hour and then communicate real-time information on terrain, enemy and friendly force locations to the commanders in the field,” said 1st Lt. Robert A. F. Señeres, 4th Marines intelligence officer.

The officers then observed the first demonstration of SASO training, where the Marines reacted to an improvised explosive device during a convoy operation.

“In this scenario, a convoy commander recognizes a possible IED by indicators such as guardrails, a sharp turn or excess debris along the road,” explained Maj. Richard D. Doherty, commanding officer, Company E, 2/23. “The convoy dismounts the vehicles, sets up in a defensive posture, and two Marines are sent forward to investigate the possible IED.

“For this demonstration, we had the IED make casualties out of the two investigating Marines, and then the remaining Marines reacted as they were trained, by evacuating the downed Marines to a secure triage site or landing zone.”

“It’s common for a convoy or mounted patrol to move quickly, but speed is only effective against snipers or rocket propelled grenades,” Doherty said. “An IED is almost instantaneous so, when they are recognized, caution is the best defense.”

Regardless of speed, roadblocks can also threaten convoys, bringing them quickly to a halt. Doherty and his Marines showed JSDF officers how convoys and mounted patrols should react to these obstacles.

“Upon reaching a roadblock, the Marines immediately dismount the vehicles, sweep the surrounding area for hostiles and make a secure perimeter around the vehicles,” Doherty said. “All convoys or mounted patrols should have vehicles possessing chains or winches so that the roadblock can be dragged out of the way.”

The Marines then demonstrated how a foot patrol reacts to a sniper in an urban environment, another common threat in Iraq, according to Doherty.

The Company E Marines entered the simulated town surrounded by three-story squad bays serving as unsecured buildings in the scenario.

“When (Marines on patrol receive) fire from a sniper, they will immediately find available cover and concealment while returning suppressing fire,” Doherty said. “The Marines will then radio the situation to higher headquarters, close with the sniper and eliminate (him) or force him to withdraw.”

According to Doherty, every battalion must go through SASO training prior to deploying to a hostile theater of operations. To assist in preparing their own soldiers, the JSDF officers were given checklists on SASO procedures.

“The JSDF mission in Iraq will be defensive in nature, such as convoys from point (and) providing humanitarian aid,” Doherty said. “Witnessing these scenarios will help them develop their own standard operating procedures and successfully defend themselves.”

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