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Japanese officer candidates learn from Marine Corps

Date Posted: 2005-07-02

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan — Marines with 4th Marine Regiment welcomed more than 50 Japan Air Self Defense Force cadets as part of the Japanese Observer Exchange Program held here June 1 in order to familiarize the cadets with the mission, history and equipment of the Marine Corps.

The exchange provided a platform for cultural and professional interaction between the Marine Corps and the Japan Self Defense Forces.

“This program enhances the relationship between our Marines and the Japanese Armed Forces,” said 1st Lt. Jeff L. Horne, the Headquarters Company commander with 4th Marine Regiment. “It benefits both the Marines and cadets by increasing their knowledge of (the Marine Corps’) capabilities on Okinawa.”

The event began with a class about the Marine Corps’ history, mission, area of responsibility, training and exercises conducted by Major B. A. Buckel, the operations officer with Headquarters Co.

“The cadets were surprised to learn that Marines are combat-ready ground forces capable of deploying by air, land or sea,” Buckel said.

The future officers took advantage of a question and answer period after the class where Buckel fielded questions about amphibious landings and the history of warfighting.

The cadets also had the chance to familiarize themselves with the Marines’ equipment.

The Marines set up displays and explained the characteristics of multiple weapons and communications equipment. Weapons included the M2 ..50-calibur machine gun, M240G medium machine gun, M249 squad automatic weapon and the M16A2 service rifle. The communications equipment on display was the AN/PRC-119 single channel ground and airborne radio system.

The cadets learned the characteristics, functions and nomenclature of the M16A2 service rifle from Lance Cpl. Justin R. Renninger, a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist with Headquarters Co. He also fielded questions about Marine Corps marksmanship training.

“During our rifle qualification, we shoot at different shaped targets,” the 19-year-old Littleton, Colo., native, explained as he drew two, small-scale targets on a sheet of paper. “We shoot at the smaller targets from 200 and 300 yards, and the larger targets from 500.”

The cadets then moved to the indoor simulated marksmanship trainer where they were able to use laser fitted versions of many of the Marine Corps’ weapons with a computer-generated combat simulation.

“I was very impressed with the indoor shooting range,” explained Eiji Tsukamoto, a 31-year-old cadet with the JASDF. “I learned it’s very difficult to shoot a moving target.”

The event showed the cadets how the Marine Corps operates and what services they provide Japan from bases on Okinawa, Buckel explained. It also allowed them to have a little fun and get some hands-on experience with American equipment.

“I learned about many things,” Tsukamoto said. “Mostly how even support units are all Marines. It was very beneficial because it was the first time I could speak with real Marines and see their rifles.”

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