By Staff Sgt. Mark MirandaSeptember 11, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Sniper-trained soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry regiment took a day of training with their Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force counterparts to focus on advanced techniques and field craft at Yakima Training Center, as part of this year's Rising Thunder combined exercises, Sept. 10.
In recent days, the Japanese trained on marksmanship and sniper equipment.
"The soldiers the Japanese have selected as snipers are the best of their infantry, the cream of the crop and their marksmanship skills are ridiculously impressive," said Sgt. Chad Quillia, who completed sniper school training three years ago.
"We started off with basics, but they demanded more advanced stuff - tactics, collection of battlefield intelligence, stalking and other sniper-related skills. I'm excited to get this opportunity to train with a foreign military," said Quillia, an infantryman from South Royalton, Vt.
The primary mission of the sniper is to deliver long-range, precision fire. Their secondary mission is the collecting and reporting of battlefield information.
Quillia and other snipers from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division showed Japanese soldiers how to blend in with the surrounding environment by wearing a ghillie suit, and proper technique for moving through terrain while wearing the suit.
"The 'stalking lanes' are an accumulation of all events - target detection, range estimation, shooting, and utilizing cover and concealment," said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Shaw, lead sniper instructor for 5-20 Inf. Bn. "What we want them to learn in order to successfully navigate through [our stalking criteria], is to use the vegetation, the suit and surrounding areas; to keep to shadows and make slow, deliberate movements."
The Japanese snipers were also taught a variety of different firing techniques utilizing different positions, stances and means of support to allow themselves to use their cover and concealment to maximum effectiveness.
"I train snipers back home, and my impression of the instructors is that they're extremely helpful in teaching the advanced skills," said Sgt. Maj. Munetsugo Matsuba, of JGSDF's 41st Area Security Force.
"Our sniper program is still in its infancy, so we want to learn as much as possible with this opportunity. We share a lot of similarities in teaching the basics, but we're amazed at the level of experience that U.S. soldiers have."
As is the case with most of his soldiers, it was Matsuba's first time visiting the U.S. and working with soldiers from I Corps and 7th Infantry Division.
"We're quite impressed with the capabilities provided for our training and the facilities here, especially since we don't have this type of environment at home," Matsuba said.
As Rising Thunder exercises proceed, over the coming weeks the Snipers from both JGSDF and Joint Base Lewis-McChord will continue to learn from one another and benefit from this partnership.