Marine Snipers Hit the Target in Fuji

CAMP FUJI, Japan  — The sound of lead impacting steel rang through the valleys beneath Mount Fuji, as a team of Marine snipers methodically picked off targets to demonstrate their capabilities.

A team of snipers from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force conducted a capabilities demonstration for an audience of soldiers from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces here, July 6.

More than a dozen JGSDF soldiers were led to the training area by Col. Shimizu Tadatoshi, the chief of the Management Division for the East Fuji Maneuver Area, in order to observe the sniper training.

"The Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces came out to visit us and observe the capabilities of our snipers," said Staff Sgt. Bryan J. Calderon, 28-year-old urban sniper instructor for Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch, III Marine Expeditionary Force and native of Sacramento, Calif. "Their observation allows for greater training opportunities in the future and increased interoperability at all levels."

The group of snipers, consisting of marksmen from the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon and Scout Sniper Platoon of the MRF, demonstrated rapid target engagement, coordinated engagement and shooting from a tripod.

They fired the M40A3 and M40A5 sniper rifles at 12 inch targets distanced 270 meters, 340 meters, 480 meters, and 590 meters from the firing line.

While the training served its main purpose of demonstration for Japanese allies, it also served as a venue for cross training between two elements of the MRF.

"The Scout Snipers gain a lot from the ARP in regards to reconnaissance, surveillance and communication.," said Capt. Patrick M. Morey, MRF commander and native of Los Angeles, Calif. "The ARP gains some knowledge from our Scout Snipers in field craft and patrol planning."

For the individual snipers, the training allowed them to maintain their status as the 31st MEU's top marksmen.

"It helps sustain my skills," said Cpl. Dillon Gillis, a 20-year-old amphibious reconnaissance sniper for the MRF and native of Rolla, Missouri. "Every chance we get to shoot, it helps keep us at that high level of precision."

The 31st MEU is the United States' force in readiness for the Asia Pacific and the Marine Corps' only continuously forward deployed MEU.

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