News: 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines prepare for Artillery Relocation Training Program
Story by Pfc. Daniel Valle
CAMP FUJI, Japan – More than 200 Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force transported 94 tactical vehicles and 12 M777A2 155mm howitzers from Yokohama Port to the East Fuji Maneuver Area here in preparation for Artillery Relocation Training Program 2011 June 14.
The purpose of ARTP is to sustain unit proficiency in all weapons systems used by artillery units in order to maintain combat readiness in support of the U.S.-Japan security alliance.
According to Master Sgt. Eleno Villegas, motor transportation chief for 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, the convoy was vital to the success of the training because the training would not take place without the howitzers or vehicles.
Cpl. Kyle Henderson, a wrecker operator with 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, also highlighted the importance of the convoy.
“The convoy this morning was important because we needed all the equipment for our mission to be completed,” said Henderson. “We needed the M777 howitzers here to conduct our firing and all the vehicles to transport the equipment that is essential to our firing mission.”
Safety was one of the most important concerns in the execution of the convoy, and the Marines were thoroughly briefed on precautions and immediate actions in case of an emergency.
“We were briefed the night before the convoy on the route we would be taking, safety procedures, and what to do in case of any incident,” said Henderson. “We were given maps and cell phones for the group commanders to communicate throughout the duration of the convoy.”
Before their departure, the Marines inspected each vehicles’ tire pressure, transmission fluid and oil. They also ensured the vehicles had enough fuel to complete the mission, said Villegas.
The convoy traveled approximately 80 kilometers in 18 five-vehicle groups in order to reduce traffic and minimize impact on the local Japanese community, said Henderson.
Artillery live-fire training was relocated from Okinawa in accordance with an agreement between the U.S. government and the Government of Japan in order to limit the impact of U.S. forces on Okinawa Prefecture. Training has been conducted at Government of Japan-approved sites on mainland Japan since 1997 with the understanding and cooperation of local governments.
The live-fire portion of ARTP 2011 is scheduled to begin June 20.