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Sharpening the skills 3/12 sustains artillery ability at Fuji

Marine Corps News


Story by Staff Sgt. Jason M. Webb

NORTH FUJI MANEUVER AREA, Japan(December 2, 2002) -- More than 175 Marines of K Battery and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, deployed here recently to conduct an artillery relocation exercise.

Throughout the month-long exercise, K Battery Marines will execute live-fire exercises for eight days, with four additional days set aside for inclement weather, in order to sustain and enhance the unit's artillery skills and combat readiness.

Along with fine-tuning the battery's performance and firing its four M198 155mm Howitzers in the space-restricted training area here, the Marines will also attend several field training classes that include Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defensive tactics.

"Our primary mission is to conduct safe training here at Camp Fuji," said 1st. Lt. Daniel S. Price, executive officer, K Battery. "Additionally, we want to insure that the most training gets done for each round that we send down range."

With that in mind, the leaders of K Battery have the final say on what training is accomplished in the field.

According to Price, a Slidell, La. native, K Battery does not have to compete with a higher agency such as a full regimental exercise to accomplish it's live- fire exercises. The Marines are operating as a single battery, and they get to make their own training decisions.

For cannoneer Cpl. Luke G. Johnson, returning here for the second time with K Battery, the exercise means a position of leadership for him and more time to train the less-experienced Marines.

"In training such as this, it gives the junior Marines an opportunity to step up and take charge," the Granite Falls, Minn., native.

Price echoed Johnson's remarks by saying that this deployment will give the battery an opportunity to put new people in new positions and give the veteran Marines an opportunity to supervise.

Furthermore, the battery appreciates teaching the less-seasoned Marines how to operate in a different terrain and environment far away from the desert.

According to Johnson, approximately 60 percent of K Battery has not trained here before. These Marines are rarely used to training in the cold, damp and windy conditions which prevail here.

K Battery is currently deployed here from Okinawa under the Unit Deployment Program, and attached to 3/12 from 3/11, which is home-based at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

With rain, fog and poor visibility posing problems on any given day, it makes the entire battery, including the support Marines from the battalion staff, coordinate and communicate properly to accomplish the mission.

At the end of the live-fire exercise, the Marines of 3/12 are scheduled to participate in two days of community relations programs before returning to Okinawa in December.

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