News: Division Schools, JGSDF begin scout sniper training
Story by Lance Cpl. Ricardo Hurtado
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Division Schools and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force began scout sniper training during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 22, 2014.
Iron Fist is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units, and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training.
Prior to conducting hands-on training in the field, Japanese soldiers received classes, in ballistics, land navigation, stalking and sniper techniques taught by Marine instructors.
“Before we do anything, we like to go over the basics of what we’re going to go through,” said a Marine pre-scout sniper instructor with 1st Marine Division Schools. “They all might already understand [the material], but it’s helpful to go over it as a refresher.”
The first week of training included land navigation courses and exercises in ghillie suits
As part of the land navigation course, Japanese soldiers were given coordinate points, which they plotted and found using a map and compass.
The navigation training is designed to teach students how to move from an insertion point to an objective, which is vital during real life situations, and gives Japanese soldiers the opportunity to work on different types of terrain.
“Working in a terrain like this where they might not be accustomed to is a challenge and a new experience to them. We walk them through that and teach them how we operate,” said the pre-scout sniper instructor.
During the second half of the week, pre-scout sniper instructors took the Japanese soldiers to break in their ghillie suits.
“The ghillie suit is the formal camouflage that we have to help us better look like the grass, bushes, or trees,” said Sgt. Jason Pacheco, pre-scout sniper instructor, 1st Marine Division Schools.
Japanese soldiers crawled through mud, dirt and the woods to make their suits blend in with the environment.
“We run them through the water and the mud because that’s what really breaks in their ghillies,” Pacheco said. “You don’t want a clean ghillie, you want something really rugged and beat up that looks more like the earth than something that you just took out of the dryer.”
Although language barrier can be a challenge, the willingness of the Japanese to learn has made it easier to overcome.
“You can tell by the way the [Japanese soldiers] are that they want to learn,” Pacheco said. “If they mess something up, they are quick to fix it and not do it again, so it’s a lot easier to teach them.”
Sniper training continues throughout the upcoming weeks with different events in weapons familiarization, shooting exercises and stalking techniques. All of these events will give the Japanese a better understanding of how to operate as a scout sniper.