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Okinawa Marines hone their artillery skills in the shadow of Mount Fuji

By DANIEL BETANCOURT | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 28, 2021

COMBINED ARMS TRAINING CENTER CAMP FUJI, Japan — Marines recently put their island-fighting doctrine to the test by coordinating live fire from M777 A2 howitzers with distant orders from Okinawa.

Two Marine batteries from Okinawa are wrapping up 10 days in an artillery relocation training program that ends Thursday near Mount Fuji.

Their training focuses on honing the expeditionary advanced base operations concept put forward by the Marine Corps in 2018. It calls for Marines to seize island bases within range of an adversary’s weaponry, call in precision long-range fires, then move to a new location.

The advanced base concept is tailored to fit potential conflict in the Western Pacific and parallels the great power competition outlined in the 2020 National Defense Strategy.

“Receiving fire missions from Okinawa to Fuji, Japan, that is a success, a huge win for us to proof the expeditionary advanced base operations concept of distributed lethality across an island chain and, yes, we can do that right now,” Capt. Steven Standbury, the commander of Charlie Battery, told Stars and Stripes on Friday.

Sending the Marine units to Camp Fuji demonstrated their logistical capabilities, Standbury said. The units move all their vehicles and equipment to different locations and maintain everything in working order.

The Marines also brought along an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and positioned it under camouflage netting for an exercise in survivability.

The artillery units taking part in the exercise are deployed to Okinawa from U.S. bases. Charlie Battery, call sign Cutthroat, is permanently stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and India Battery, call sign Ironman, is from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

On Okinawa, they belong to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

betancourt.daniel@stripes.com
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Members of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division brought along an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, during artillery relocation training at Camp Fuji, Japan, April 23, 2021.
DANIEL BETANCOURT/STARS AND STRIPES