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Lance Cpl. Riley Deforest stabilizes the legs on the 81mm mortar system after Lance Cpl. Nicholas Seelhammer dropped a projectile in the tube Sept. 6, 2015 during Forest Light 16-1 at Camp Imazu, Takashima, Japan. The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Marines took turns calling fire missions, prepping the mortar for fire, and firing the mortar during the training. Forest Light is a semi-annual, bilateral exercise consisting of a command post exercise and multiple field training events conducted by elements of III Marine Expeditionary Force and the JGSDF. Deforest is from Norwich, New York, and is a mortarman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. Seelhammer is from Dawsonville, Georgia, and is a mortarman with 1st Bn., 2nd Marines.

Photo by Cpl. Devon Tindle

JGSDF, Marines fire mortars at Forest Light 16-1

11 Sep 2015 | Cpl. Devon Tindle III Marine Expeditionary Force

Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force Members and U.S. Marines came together on Sept. 6, 2015 at Camp Imazu, Takashima, Japan, to shoot mortars during Forest Light 16-1.

Forest Light is a semi-annual, bilateral exercise consisting of a command post exercise and multiple field training events, conducted by elements of III Marine Expeditionary Force and the JGSDF.

Getting to shoot weapons in different terrains helps prepare Marines for the various missions they may face in the future, according to Cpl. Taylor McCullough, a mortarman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“We have to be ready for any type of terrain because we never know what we are going to get,” said McCullough, from Benton, Louisiana. “Today it was rainy and muddy making our baseplates sink faster causing us to dig our bipods out deeper. The more we train with harsh weather the better we will be at overcoming the difficulties.”

According to McCullough, observing and understanding how the Japanese do things in a different manner and trading knowledge helps their unit.

“I noticed how efficient they run their gun,” said McCullough. “They are very good at what they do. There are little tips and tricks I picked up on, which I can use to help junior Marines in the future.”

The JGSDF wants to learn as much as possible from the Marines, according to Master Sgt. Yutaka Kawano, a mortarman with 15th Infantry Regiment, 14th Brigade, JGSDF.

“The JGSDF can learn a lot from the Marines by training together, because they are the more experienced war fighters in the world,” said Kawano. “We especially want to learn the fundamentals, such as, rifle carries and mortar equipment. That’s why I believe exercises like Forest Light are great training and an honor to learn from the best.”