SENJOGAHARA, Japan --
SENJOGAHARA, Japan — As artillery rounds pummel the ground, Japanese residents and media watch with enthusiasm.
Approximately 80 local residents and media attended an artillery demonstration for Artillery Relocation Training Program 16-1 here, May 16, 2016.
ARTP is a Japan-funded, routine training exercise that allows Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, to conduct live-fire training four times per year.
The demonstration was given to showcase the high level of safety and precision that Marine Corps artillery is known for.
“We take the Japanese locals to the gun line where they get to see the documents that contain firing data that corresponds to the geographical limits of the safety box where artillery rounds impact,” said Lt. Col. Neil J. Owens, Commanding Officer of ARTP 16-1. “They also get to see the fire direction center where we have independent secondary checks of every piece of data that gets sent down to the gun line.”
As local Japanese residents were escorted throughout the field, Owens had the opportunity to explain to them the measures that are taken to ensure a safe ARTP.
“The local people get the chance to see the firing missions, they get to see how all the Marines interact, that there is appropriate supervision, and that we have safety procedures that are enforced as we conduct our training out here,” said Owens.
Owens holds meetings every evening to discuss safety matters with members of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the Tohoku Defense Bureau. The bureau, which falls under Japan’s Ministry of Defense, often works directly with the Marine Corps on matters related to Japan's national security.
“Lt. Col. Owens understands how important the relationship with the local Japanese population is,” said Hiroshi Tsubokawa, the planning department director for the Tohoku Defense Bureau. “This is why he meets with locals and hold events such as the artillery demonstration.”
After making their rounds throughout the training area, all attendees gathered near the gate for a question and answer session.
“The local people like having the opportunity to ask questions,” said Owens. “This is their opportunity to see that what we do out here is crucial to maintaining our combat readiness.”
ARTP 16-1 will conclude later this month after a total of eight days of live-fire training is complete.