CAMP HANSEN, Japan - More than 400 Marines and sailors deployed Jan. 13-15 to Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, to participate in Artillery Relocation Training Program 13-4.
The program is a 17-year-old regularly scheduled training cycle, which is designed to enhance the combat readiness of U.S. Marine forces in support of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
The participating artillery Marines are currently assigned to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
During their time at CATC Camp Fuji, the service members will practice basic field training, fire M777A2 lightweight 155 mm howitzers, and execute small-arms live-fire training evolutions to maintain proficiency and enhance combat readiness. The unit also intends to participate in community relation events in the local area, according to 1st Lt. Gregory M. Scott, an artillery officer with Battery L.
“It’s definitely going to be a new challenge for us,” said Scott. “Our Marines are definitely excited to be going on the program, but they are a little apprehensive because the snow and the cold are something we usually don’t get in (Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center,) Twentynine Palms.”
Not only will the unit be challenged by the training and weather, they will also face the daunting task of transporting its equipment long distances.
“There is a huge difference from, figuratively speaking, shooting in your own backyard and moving your howitzers from one island to another,” said Maj. James S. Birgl, the executive officer of 3rd Bn., 12th Marines. “Not only do we improve the battery’s training and readiness standards, but the ARTP helps improve their logistics capabilities as well.”
During their time at ARTP, the battalion leadership hopes to improve the capabilities of the batteries under its command, according to Birgl.
“Our goal is to send the UDP batteries back to their parent commands in a better shape than when we received them,” said Birgl. “We want them to go back with a better knowledge of what it takes to fire the howitzers in various climates and how to employ them to accomplish their mission.”