View Full Version : Live-fire exercises banned on Okinawa, Marines now practice on Hokkaido

09-29-03, 06:21 AM
Live-fire exercises banned on Okinawa, Marines now practice on Hokkaido

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, September 29, 2003

Several hundred Marines with the 12th Marine Regiment beat the Okinawa heat this month by participating in live-fire artillery training in Japan’s far north.

More than 420 Marines and sailors with the regiment’s 3rd Battalion arrived in the Japan Self-Defense Force’s Yausubetsu Maneuver Area early in September to hone their skills in an environment that allowed them to fire their big guns — 155 mm medium howitzers.

Live-fire artillery exercises were banned from Okinawa in December 1996 as part of the bilateral Special Action Committee on Okinawa’s plan to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces there.

In 1997, live-fire training was moved to five areas on the Japanese main islands — Hijudai on Kyushu, East and North Fuji, Ojojihara in Northern Honshu and Yausubetsu in Hokkaido.

The training was designed to enhance the artillery skills of the members of the battalion, said 1st Lt. Jeffrey B. Harvey, executive officer for the battalion’s Tango Battery, according to a Marine press release.

The batteries conducted several days of relocation training, followed by four days of individual battery live-fire training, followed by another battalion phase and then a scenario-driven exercise. During the exercise, the artillerymen worked with Marines from the 4th Regiment in simulated combat.

According to Capt. Adolpho Garcia Jr., commanding officer of Alpha Battery, the training gave the Marines opportunities not available to them on Okinawa.

“We don’t get the opportunity to live-fire on the island,” he said. “But the battalion and the regiment do a really good job of trying to get us two artillery live-fire shoots.”

During exercises elsewhere in the Pacific, the battalion is limited to what it can do, he said.

“When we went to Cobra Gold [in Thailand], we were degraded,” Garcia said.

“We were only able to take three guns and half the battery. Up here, we are able to shoot five guns.”

Besides training, Marines with the 12th Marine Regiment conducted several community-relation projects and visits with local residents.


Courtesy USMC
Marines from Battery I, 3rd Marine Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, load a round and prepare to fire an M198 155mm Medium Howitzer during a recent live-fire exercise.


Courtesy USMC
An explosive round flies out of an M198 155mm medium howitzer at the Yausubetsu Maneuvering Area, Hokkaido, Japan.




09-29-03, 06:23 AM
Unannounced exercise irks Okinawan officials

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, September 28, 2003

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa fishermen heading toward their favorite fishing grounds Thursday were surprised by an unannounced military exercise taking place in the waters off Camp Schwab.

The fishermen were barred from the area.

Anti-base activists who monitor activity in the area complained to Nago City officials after learning of the incident. The U.S. military usually announces such exercises in advance.

The news surprised Nago officials, who said they were not notified and in turn notified the Naha Bureau of the Defense Facilities Administration, which called the Marine community-relations office on Camp Foster to find out what was going on.

The Marines there said they didn’t know, either.

The Navy amphibious group with Okinawa’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit was not expected to return to Okinawa from an exercise in the Philippines until later this month. But the ships and the buzzing of helicopters overhead announced the fleet had arrived early and decided to hone its warfighting skills a bit more.

“Normally, we are notified of any U.S. military training conducted in restricted waters at least 24 hours in advance, according to a regulation agreed between the governments,” said a spokesman for the Defense Facilities Administration Naha Bureau on Friday.

“But this time there was no notification,” he said.

Pictures of the USS Essex, with a swarm of helicopters overhead, were featured prominently in Okinawa newspapers Friday morning. Essex is the flagship of the amphibious readiness group.

“Prior notification is important for the safety of fishermen who operate in the waters,” the DFAB spokesman said. “The Marine Corps G5 office [community relations] offered an apology when we made an inquiry about the training.

“They told us that Marine Corps headquarters ordered the unit to immediately halt the training,” he said.

The Consolidated Public Affairs office on Camp Foster had no comment Friday concerning the exercise.

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.




09-29-03, 07:34 AM
I can remember, '62 or '63. An order came out, restricting the amount we could pay to our houseboys, and the number of people a houseboy could work for.

It was because we (and they) were distorting the economy. A houseboy working for us made more money than a doctor, attorney, or a corporate manager.

How soon they forgot.