CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan - - U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members proudly demonstrated their respective mortar systems during Orient Shield 14 here, Oct. 23.
Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Queck, a platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company Mortar Platoon, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. introduces the 60mm mortar system (M224A1) to his Japanese counterparts for the first time.
The demonstration was part of Orient Shield 14, an annual bilateral training exercise, which brings the two forces together to share military experiences, tactics and practices. The exercise takes place Oct. 27 - Nov. 7.
"Throughout the exercise we are looking forward to learning new techniques from our counterparts in the JGSDF and for them to learn from us," Queck said.
According to Queck, a mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as (mortar) bombs. Most mortar systems consist of three main components: a canon, a base plate, and a bipod.
There are three types of mortar systems used by U.S. forces: a light mortar employs a 60-millimeter projectile and weighs approx. 36 pounds. A medium mortar employs an 81-millimeter projectile and weighs approx. 91 pounds, and a heavy mortar that employs a 120-millimeter projectile and is mounted on a vehicle or trailer. Three to four man teams traditionally carry the light and medium mortar systems, Queck explained.
The JGSDF employs both the 81 and 120 mm, however the 60 mm was new to them and garnered a great deal of attention.
"The JGSDF were really excited to learn about the 60mm system during the training and were surprised by how light it was," Queck exclaimed.
Although both forces have similar weapons systems, there are slight differences in how they are employed.
"The U.S. uses the sight poles as the primary means of aiming the 81 mm mortar where the JGSDF primarily aims by using a collimator [aiming device] while using the sight poles as a secondary means of aiming," explained Staff Sgt. Shane Roberts, a squad leader from 1-17th, Headquarters Mortars.
One obstacle the U.S. Soldiers had to overcome while participating in the mortar training was the JGSDF 120mm mortar system has more control knobs than the U.S. system.
Even with minor differences between the mortar equipment, the 1-17th mortar platoon and JGSDF enjoyed working together.
"We do the same job and our equipment is very similar; it was awesome to be able to go through each system and see the differences," Roberts exclaimed.