OKINAWA, Japan - The Marines of Gun Team 2, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, exhibited the capabilities of the M777 howitzer to more than 50 Japanese Ground Self Defense Force service members here Feb. 3.
The purpose of the informal demonstration was to familiarize service members with the gun’s mechanics, characteristics, maintenance, firing protocol and new digital fire control system on the weapon, said Sgt. Dustin Zimmerman, section chief, Gun Team 2, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines.
“We want to make sure they understand everything this weapon can do, especially since the technology has changed,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just a matter of keeping our allies up-to-date on what we’re firing and our capabilities.”
Zimmerman and his team, consisting of a gunner, assistant gunner, recorder and the cannoneers, executed the entire procedure to fire, pausing to explain each step in detail with the assistance of a translator.
Japanese service members were encouraged to take photos and ask questions to ensure they understood each step.
Lance Cpl. Al Ackenheil, recorder for Gun Team 2, said the day presented a great opportunity to interact with the JGSDF and explain what the artillery Marines do on a day-to-day basis.
“I enjoyed helping show what our team does and the capabilities of the howitzer,” Ackenheil, a Pittsburgh, Pa. native. “I hope those who attended today walked away with a better understanding of the equipment we work with and how our team operates.”
Approximately 160 Marines from 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines are scheduled to conduct artillery training here Feb. 1-19, as part of the Artillery Relocation Training Program.
The purpose of the regularly scheduled training is to ensure that the Marines are able to sustain their operational proficiency in order to respond effectively to any conflict in the Asia-Pacific region where artillery units would be needed.
Live fire days for training are scheduled for Feb. 7-11.