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Japan Ground Self-Defense Force officer candidates learn from Marines

By Cpl. Rebecca Elmy | III Marine Expeditionary Force | January 15, 2016


CAMP KINSER, Okinawa - Aspiring Japanese officers completed one of the most significant events in their training by visiting U.S. Marines and fulfilling a combine operation training requirement on Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan, Jan. 15.

Three hundred and sixty Japan Ground Self-Defense Force officer candidates attended a presentation of Marine Corps weapons, vehicles and martial arts to better understand the force they may work with in the future.

“These events give us the opportunity to share one another’s knowledge and experiences between our different, yet alike forces,” said Lance Cpl. Jerry Tolenoa, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistic Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Japanese and U.S. Forces are dedicated to strengthening their alliance by continuing bi-lateral training in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Marine Corps officials. The two forces have worked together at sea, in Australia and during humanitarian operations across Japan and the Philippines.

More recently, Marines and JGSDF took part in Exercise Forest Light. The semi-annual, bilateral exercise took place last September when they trained on command post exercises and multiple field training events in Japan.

“These types of events strengthen our already established bond even at the lowest level,” said Tolenoa. “For example, myself as a lance corporal and the candidates to be able to bond and talk about things like one another’s vehicles and weapon systems highlights our connection both personally and professionally.”

The visit began with opening remarks by U.S. Marine Col. Christopher Feyedelem, the commander of Headquarters Regiment, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, to inform the candidates about how Marines operate and train in the Pacific.

“Being here at an event like this has given me a better feel about what Marines do,” said officer candidate Suhn Suke Kikuchi. “For many of the Japanese candidates, this event has been their first time on a Marine Corps installation. Today helped me understand a little bit more about the Marines Corps, especially by the size of the base compared to our tiny school.”

At the end of the event, both forces gathered to exchange gifts.

“This experience has reminded me of the importance of the job that I’m doing for the Marine Corps,” said Tolenoa. “I enjoyed the interaction with the officer candidates and answering their questions.”

The visiting members of the JGSDF were happy and grateful to be here and interact with Marines, according Kikuchi.

“I look forward to working with Marines, especially now the JGSDF is emphasizing on amphibious operations so I think it’s especially important to learn about the Marine Corps.,” said Kikuchi. “Next month I will start my training to become an infantry officer, so I really look forward to training with and learning from Marines.”

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