News: Japanese conclude annual service practice live-fire exercise
Story by Claudia Kennedy
McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, concluded their Annual Service Practice live-fire exercise on Dec. 15 firing the last Chu-SAM missile at the Integrated Fire Control range 22 in McGregor Range, N.M.
The ASP began Sep. 29 and concluded on Dec. 15 providing 17 JGSDF firing batteries, on a one-week rotation, a total of three phase II Hawks, six phase III Hawks, and eight Chu-SAM missiles. The live-fire exercise allowed the soldiers to test and validate their equipment and training ensuring operational missile defense readiness.
Col. Koji Taguchi, commander for the ASP, explains that by conducting live-fire exercises in the perfect conditions and terrain McGregor Range has to offer, he hopes his soldiers are able to experience real life combat situations and can identify obstacles and limitations.
“Because of Japan’s mountainous terrain, we are unable to have a flat training site. So the area is suitable for firing cruising missiles,” said Taguchi. “Fort Bliss and McGregor Range is an important place for air defense units because it is the birthplace of air defense artillery. It will help improve our air defense capabilities,” continued Taguchi.
This training is very valuable for the firing batteries. Taguchi explained that his soldiers are honored to have the privilege of participating in the training that regardless of a successful or unsuccessful target-missile engagement, soldiers are overcome with emotion and will cry because they are grateful to be involved.
This exercise marked the 48th year that Japan has conducted Hawk ASP and the seventh year for Chu-SAM missile live-fire exercises in McGregor Range preserving the bond between the U.S. and Japan.
“It is my honor and pleasure to conduct ASP training with the UT&C members, who are very enthusiastic in training and support. We have a very strong friendship and fraternity between us. We are one team,” said Taguchi.
“I really appreciate the United States and the Japanese government for allowing us to conduct live-fire training here at McGregor Range,” said Taguchi.