The US Marine Corps personnel have joined with Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members to shoot mortars as part of the Forest Light 16-1 exercise.

The semi-annual, bilateral exercise, Forest Light, comprises a command post exercise and multiple field training events, performed by elements of III Marine Expeditionary Force and the JGSDF.

Corporal Taylor McCullough 2nd Marine Regiment 1st Battalion mortarman said that the firing weapons in different terrains will prepare Marines for various future missions.

McCullough said: "We have to be ready for any type of terrain because we never know what we are going to get.

"Today it was rainy and muddy making our baseplates sink faster causing us to dig our bipods out deeper. The more we train with harsh weather the better we will be at overcoming the difficulties."

McCullough also added that understanding how the JGSDF do things in a different manner and trading knowledge helps the unit.

According to JGSDF 14th Brigade 15th Infantry Regiment mortar-man master sergeant Yutaka Kawano, the Japanese force seeks to learn as much as possible from its counterparts.

"We have to be ready for any type of terrain because we never know what we are going to get."

Kawano said: "The JGSDF can learn a lot from the Marines by training together, because they are the more experienced warfighters in the world.

"We especially want to learn the fundamentals, such as, rifle carries and mortar equipment. That’s why I believe exercises like Forest Light are great training and an honour to learn from the best."

JGSDF and US Marines also shared knowledge about anti-tank missiles during Forest Light 16-1. The Japanese unit fired seven rockets in total from two different firing systems to familiarise the marines with their procedures.

The exercise is expected to conclude on 18 September.

Image: A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force member prepares to fire a 120mm mortar during Forest Light 16-1 at Camp Imazu, Takashima, Japan. Photo: courtesy of Cpl. Devon Tindle / US Marine Corps.