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Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza, left, jokes with Japanese soldiers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield as they pass around a 105 mm shell casing fired from the Stryker Mobile Gun System. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating.
Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza, left, jokes with Japanese soldiers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield as they pass around a 105 mm shell casing fired from the Stryker Mobile Gun System. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza, left, jokes with Japanese soldiers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield as they pass around a 105 mm shell casing fired from the Stryker Mobile Gun System. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating.
Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza, left, jokes with Japanese soldiers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield as they pass around a 105 mm shell casing fired from the Stryker Mobile Gun System. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
A U.S. soldier mounts the Stryker Mobile Gun System, a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The MGS, "has different types of rounds, including a heat round, which will go through a building, a can round, which is an anti-personnel round and a hep round, which will take out a bunker," said 2nd Lt. Robert Villareal, from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii. "It's almost like a call for (artillery) fire but it's mobile."
A U.S. soldier mounts the Stryker Mobile Gun System, a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The MGS, "has different types of rounds, including a heat round, which will go through a building, a can round, which is an anti-personnel round and a hep round, which will take out a bunker," said 2nd Lt. Robert Villareal, from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii. "It's almost like a call for (artillery) fire but it's mobile." (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
A Japanese soldier takes a photo of the Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto.
A Japanese soldier takes a photo of the Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii repair the Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. It is one of 14 Strykers deployed to Japan for the 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii repair the Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. It is one of 14 Strykers deployed to Japan for the 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
An equipment bag covered in camouflage belongs to U.S. Army snipers who competed against Japanese snipers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. Roughly 750 soldiers, most from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division  out of Hawaii, are participating alongside 600 Japanese troops during the 15-day exercise, which ends Nov. 8.
An equipment bag covered in camouflage belongs to U.S. Army snipers who competed against Japanese snipers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. Roughly 750 soldiers, most from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, are participating alongside 600 Japanese troops during the 15-day exercise, which ends Nov. 8. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. Naoto Ikeda, a reconnaissance scout with the 33rd Infantry Regiment,  explains to Stars and Stripes that after working with U.S. soldiers during exercise Orient Shield, he was surprised that Americans are so humble, polite and respectful. "I had a different image of U.S. soldiers," Ikeda said.
Sgt. Naoto Ikeda, a reconnaissance scout with the 33rd Infantry Regiment, explains to Stars and Stripes that after working with U.S. soldiers during exercise Orient Shield, he was surprised that Americans are so humble, polite and respectful. "I had a different image of U.S. soldiers," Ikeda said. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza talks with a Japanese noncommissioned officer Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield at Aibano Training Area, about an hour northeast of Kyoto. Roughly 750 soldiers, most from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, are participating alongside 600 Japanese troops during the 15-day exercise.
Staff Sgt. Sancho Burlaza talks with a Japanese noncommissioned officer Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield at Aibano Training Area, about an hour northeast of Kyoto. Roughly 750 soldiers, most from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, are participating alongside 600 Japanese troops during the 15-day exercise. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Lt. Col. Jonathan Larson, commander of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, helps Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan?s 10th Division commander, adjust the site on a sniper rifle Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Larson, commander of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, helps Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan?s 10th Division commander, adjust the site on a sniper rifle Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
A Japanese soldier shows off a patch he received from a U.S. soldier Tuesday during Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto.
A Japanese soldier shows off a patch he received from a U.S. soldier Tuesday during Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. DeAndre Bobo exchanges patches with a Japanese soldier Tuesday during Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training, but on camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating.
Sgt. DeAndre Bobo exchanges patches with a Japanese soldier Tuesday during Orient Shield, a 15-day U.S.-Japan army exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto. The 15-day exercise focuses not only on training, but on camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
A Japanese photographer pauses during a demonstration of the U.S. Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday at Aibano Training Area during exercise Orient Shield, which broke down after firing only three of several dozen rounds it was supposed to shoot. The malfunction itself wasn't good, but it was beneficial for the Japanese to see that "things don't always go according to plan," said U.S. Army Japan spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom.
A Japanese photographer pauses during a demonstration of the U.S. Stryker Mobile Gun System on Tuesday at Aibano Training Area during exercise Orient Shield, which broke down after firing only three of several dozen rounds it was supposed to shoot. The malfunction itself wasn't good, but it was beneficial for the Japanese to see that "things don't always go according to plan," said U.S. Army Japan spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
The Stryker Mobile Gun System seen here -- a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan -- suffered a malfunction Tuesday morning during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield.
The Stryker Mobile Gun System seen here -- a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan -- suffered a malfunction Tuesday morning during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Seymour, left, from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, jokes with his counterpart from Japan?s 33rd Infantry Regiment,  Command Sgt. Maj. Toshihiro Shimizu, right.
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Seymour, left, from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, jokes with his counterpart from Japan?s 33rd Infantry Regiment, Command Sgt. Maj. Toshihiro Shimizu, right. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Cpl. Stephen Purtell, a sniper from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, talks with Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan's 10th Division commander, on Tuesday during a U.S.-Japan sniper competition at exercise Orient Shield.
Cpl. Stephen Purtell, a sniper from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, talks with Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan's 10th Division commander, on Tuesday during a U.S.-Japan sniper competition at exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. Joshua Jones, a sniper from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, takes aim during a competition between U.S. and Japanese snipers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. There was a lot of "trash talking" between the soldiers Monday night, said one soldier. Japan won.
Sgt. Joshua Jones, a sniper from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii, takes aim during a competition between U.S. and Japanese snipers Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. There was a lot of "trash talking" between the soldiers Monday night, said one soldier. Japan won. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan's 10th Division commander talks with Lt. Col. Jonathan Larson, commander of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, about the 105 mm Stryker Mobile Gun System shell that was fired Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. The shell weighs roughly 42 pounds and is 3 feet tall.
Lt. Gen. Goro Matsumura, Japan's 10th Division commander talks with Lt. Col. Jonathan Larson, commander of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, about the 105 mm Stryker Mobile Gun System shell that was fired Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. The shell weighs roughly 42 pounds and is 3 feet tall. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System --- a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan --- after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield.
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System --- a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan --- after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Japanese soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Regiment closely watch a sniper competition Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. The unit is training alongside 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, out of Hawaii. The 15-day exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto ends Nov. 8.
Japanese soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Regiment closely watch a sniper competition Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. The unit is training alongside 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, out of Hawaii. The 15-day exercise at Aibano Training Area near Kyoto ends Nov. 8. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Command Sgt. Maj. Toshihiro Shimizu, from Japan's 33rd Infantry Regiment, examines a shell casing fired Tuesday from the Stryker Mobile Gun System  during exercise Orient Shield. It weighs roughly 42 pounds and is 3 feet long.
Command Sgt. Maj. Toshihiro Shimizu, from Japan's 33rd Infantry Regiment, examines a shell casing fired Tuesday from the Stryker Mobile Gun System during exercise Orient Shield. It weighs roughly 42 pounds and is 3 feet long. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. DeAndre Bobo, from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, shows off a patch he received from a Japanese soldier Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. The 15-day exercise, which ends Nov. 8, focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating.
Sgt. DeAndre Bobo, from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii, shows off a patch he received from a Japanese soldier Tuesday during exercise Orient Shield. The 15-day exercise, which ends Nov. 8, focuses not only on training but also camaraderie among the 1,350 American and Japanese soldiers who are participating. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System - a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan - after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield.
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System - a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan - after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System - a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan - after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield.
Personnel from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment out of Hawaii work on the Stryker Mobile Gun System - a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that has been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan - after it malfunctioned Tuesday during a demonstration at exercise Orient Shield. (Charlie Reed/Stars and Stripes)

AIBANO TRAINING AREA, Japan — In a muddy field full of Japanese media and troops watching American military might in action, the Stryker Mobile Gun System unceremoniously broke down.

The vehicle — a variant of the fast, lightweight Stryker armored troop carrier that’s been deployed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan — was able to fire only three of the dozens of rounds that were planned Tuesday morning.

The mechanical glitch turned the demonstration into a watch-us-fix-it event, but the snafu wasn’t all bad. It underscored the point of Orient Shield, a field training exercise that the two allied armies conduct every year for the sake of “interoperability” — military-speak for teamwork.

“The MGS is a helluva machine, but it can break down at critical times,” Maj. Randall Baucom, U.S. Army Japan spokesman, said. The malfunction wasn’t good, but it was beneficial for the Japanese to see that “things don’t always go according to plan.”

This year’s exercise is the first time the U.S. Army has deployed Strykers to Japan and the first time in five years that an active-duty unit — 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, from Hawaii — has participated.

Reservists and National Guard soldiers have deployed in the past because active-duty units were either deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan or preparing for combat.

With the Iraq War’s end and the drawdown under way in Afghanistan, the Army can focus on what has been dubbed the “Pacific pivot” toward increased U.S. emphasis in the region, which is beset by natural disasters, a rising China and a provocative North Korea.

“Orient Shield falls perfectly in line with that increased emphasis,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Larsen, commander of the 1-14th, said Tuesday from Japan’s Aibano Training Area near Lake Biwa, about an hour northeast of the former capital Kyoto.

Deploying 750 active-duty soldiers and 15 Strykers to Japan “shows our increased commitment to a Pacific partner,” Larsen said.

“The U.S. and Japan have numerous exercises that operate at headquarters levels,” he said. “But this is the only one that brings soldiers together.”

The 15-day exercise has Japanese and U.S. soldiers side by side for training and camaraderie, although they sleep in adjacent tent cities and eat in different chow halls. At night they get to socialize in “friendship” tents where they trade patches, arm wrestle and drink the two beers they’re allowed each night.

The Japanese soldiers “are actually pretty fun,” Sgt. DeAndre Bobo said. “They’re really excited to interact with us.”

American soldiers such as Maj. John Carson, executive officer for the 1-14th, noted the Japanese troops’ profound sense of personal discipline.

“When you come over here and see how disciplined the Japanese are, it makes you want to be a better soldier,” Carson said. “Hopefully, my guys are going to pick up on that and take that home.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Seymour said the Japanese soldiers are also adept at what, for Americans, is “the lost art of camouflage.”

On Tuesday, just before they arrived at a sniper competition between the two armies, Seymour exchanged ideas with Command Sgt. Maj. Toshihiro Shimizu, of Japan’s 33rd Infantry Regiment, through U.S. Army Japan translator Miki Hachiya. The men discussed each force’s strengths and weaknesses.

“American soldiers have experienced battle,” Shimizu told Stars and Stripes through Hachiya. “They know how serious war is.

“They have been to an actual war zone, unlike Japan’s self-defense forces,” Shimizu said. “What it’s like to be in a war zone, that is what we learn from the U.S. Army.”

Japan’s post-World War II constitution has limited its military to self-defense roles. While the country has sent forces to international peacekeeping operations, they have largely served in support capacities.

Baucom, the U.S. Army spokesman, said a major goal for exercises like Orient Shield is dispelling the “arrogant American stereotype,” reinforced by popular TV shows and movies.

“We aren’t Rambo. We aren’t ‘Hurt Locker,’ ” he said. “We’re soldiers just like they are, trying to protect our country and our buddies and ourselves.”

The paradigm apparently already had shifted for one Japanese soldier less than a week into the exercise.

“U.S. soldiers are humble and very respectful and polite,” said Sgt. Naoto Ikeda, a reconnaissance scout with the 33rd Infantry Regiment. “I was very surprised by that. I had a different image of U.S. soldiers.”

reedc@stripes.com

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