SHIZOUKA, Japan — “Fire mission!"
The preparatory command echoes across the battery position as teams of Marines prepare their M777A2 155 mm howitzers to fire downrange.
Reserve Marines with Oscar Battery trained alongside active-duty servicemembers as part of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, at East Fuji Maneuver Area in mainland Japan during Artillery Relocation Training Program 12-2.
The purpose of the ARTP is to sustain unit proficiency and enhance combat readiness in support of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
Oscar Battery, normally part of 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, is comprised of Marine reservists from Seal Beach, Calif., who deployed to Okinawa, Japan, under the unit deployment program. The maneuver area provides them the opportunity to practice their skills as artillerymen, as well as other common Marine Corps skills.
“Marines here get to do things we normally don’t get to do,” said Lance Cpl. Cooper G. Griffiths, a motor vehicle operator with Oscar Battery. “We have Marines belting up in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, as well as going through career courses.”
This will be the last field exercise the battery performs before returning back to its home station in California. Oscar Battery is scheduled to be the final Marine reserve artillery battery to rotate through Okinawa under the UDP.
The ARTP has been beneficial to Oscar Battery because it allowed the reserve unit the opportunity to hone its technical skills alongside active-duty counterparts.
“We took part in two training events while on UDP,” said Griffiths. “The first was (ARTP 12-1 at) Yausubetsu (Training Area in Hokkaido), and this is our second.”
The battery’s senior leadership considers the UDP a “unit development program” for junior Marines.
“We sent all our section chiefs to career courses, and as a result we have new section chiefs on all the howitzers,” said 1st Lt. William J. Foran, the assistant executive officer with the battery. “So far, they have done a great job.”
Finding a way for the Marines to efficiently complete their tasks can be strenuous due to conflicting obligations.
“It’s difficult for some of the Marines to juggle being a civilian and a Marine,” said Griffiths. “A lot of us have to sacrifice time at school or our jobs back home in order to participate in the deployment.”
In addition to sending artillery rounds downrange throughout the days and nights, Oscar Battery will be participating in other scheduled events during ARTP 12-2, including a small-arms range, a climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji, the battalion field meet, and community relations events.