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2/3 unleashes fury at Forest Light 2002

Marine Corps News


Story by Sgt Nathan K. Laforte

KYUSHU, Japan(December 2, 2002) -- The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment disembarked the "Westpack Express," High Speed Vessel early morning, Nov. 11, and traveled to Camp Beppu to take part in Exercise Forest Light 03-1, a semi-annual bilateral training exercise between the Marine Corps and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.

For two weeks, the Hawaii-based battalion participated in the exercise along with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force's 41st Infantry Regiment, 4th Division. Both forces trained in the Hijudai and Jumanjibaru training areas, which are located near Beppu City, Japan.

The battalion of more than 800 Marines was deployed here from Okinawa under the Marine Corps' Unit Deployment Program, and will remain in the Pacific region for seven months.

Despite the language barrier that existed between the Marines and the Japanese forces, the bilateral exercise afforded the Marines a chance to teach and learn about the similarities and differences of their Japanese counterparts.

"We went to Kyushu to overcome problems associated with bilateral training," said Lt. Col. Robert Castellvi, battalion commander, 2/3. "This exercise gave us the chance to mesh different warfighting philosophies."

Castellvi added that the exercise helped the two different forces learn specific aspects of each other's combat ethos.

"We exposed them heavily to maneuver warfare. We then focused them on the enemy, taught them rapid planning and our techniques on coordinating fire support." Castellvi explained. "In return, we got to see how they think and solve problems on the battlefield."

Castellvi pointed out that knowing your ally on the battlefield is very important to reduce the problems that can arise due to poor coordination. The Chicago native added that if each different force already knows the other's way of thinking, they would work better under varied circumstances.

The exercise was divided into two phases, which allowed training both forces throughout the fast-paced schedule attainable.

The first phase of the exercise involved live-fire training, counter-guerrilla mountain-warfare training and Military Operations in Urban Terrain. The training also involved communications, medical and scout sniper platoons.

After a short break, the three-day comprehensive phase joined both forces together to employ skills practiced throughout the training evolution.

"I've trained with the Koreans before, but never the Japanese," said Sgt. Jonathan R. Rosado, Nuclear Biological Chemical specialist, Headquarters and Service Company. "I was eager to learn their NBC capabilities."

The Lawtey, Fla., native set up the NBC static displays, classes and the final portion of the comprehensive phase of the exercise, which involved an NBC defense drill.

"Since NBC is used for defense and the Japanese are a defense force, I was certain that they would have a good NBC program," Rosado explained.

"Although I have only trained in NBC for a short time in the Marine Corps, I knew that we could learn something from the Japanese. I'm certain that we taught them some things, too."

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