NORTH FUJI MANEUVER AREA, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan -- Marines and sailors with Mike Battery conducted live-fire training with M777A2 155 mm howitzers and crew-served weapons during Artillery Relocation Training Program 12-3 here Nov. 10-19.
ARTP 12-3 is regularly-scheduled, routine training that promotes regional stability and security by allowing the artillery battalion and batteries on Okinawa to improve their ability to support III Marine Expeditionary Force's role in the defense of Japan under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
Mike Battery, which usually trains at its home station of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., is exercising its artillery capabilities in unfamiliar terrain while assigned to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF.
"I think it's a good opportunity for the Marines to get out of Twentynine Palms and experience a new environment and culture," said 1st Lt. Richard O. Littlefield, the executive officer for Mike Battery. "We're training hard out here and preparing for any contingencies that might happen in our area of operations."
The training during ARTP 12-3 allows Mike Battery to increase its proficiency in the core task of providing fire support to maneuver units, which could be called upon in any climate or terrain.
"This is good training for our Marines. We're really working on our mission essential tasks," said Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Dudley, the battery gunnery sergeant with Mike Battery. "This gives us an opportunity to hone our skills as an artillery battery, and I think we're accomplishing our goals."
Due to the dense vegetation in the maneuver area, occupying a gun position becomes challenging for the battery. Positioning of howitzers is dictated by terrain.
"In Twentynine Palms, it's a lot more open and it's a desert environment," said Littlefield. "Out here, the positions we put the artillery in are a lot smaller, so organizing the battery in order to be effective in these areas presents a new challenge for us."
Despite the different environment, the Marines and sailors of Mike Battery remain proficient in their duties and each member of the unit still has a specific role they must perform in order for artillery rounds to impact on time and on target in support of friendly units.
Throughout ARTP 12-3, the battery's Marines took advantage of the training opportunities to maintain their readiness.
"I think the past 10 days of training gave the Marines a chance to maintain the basic skills they have been taught," said Littlefield. "The Marines worked together on many different events."