YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- Dust and smoke covered the air around the Soldiers as they scrambled to load another round. The radioman's resounding voice roared over the chatter, reiterating orders from the person on the other end of the radio. As they echoed the commands back, two soldiers loaded the next round into the chamber, making sure it locked into place. As they retreated, they went down to their knees taking cover behind the weapon. The soldiers placed their hands over their ears as the radioman began the countdown. A few meters away, a cloud of smoke can be seen coming out the end of another barrel. As the count reached one, another soldier pulled down on the trigger. A round soared from the barrel of the weapon into open skies, creating a thunderous atmosphere once again.
Once again, the artillerymen from the 33rd Infantry Regiment, 10th Division, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force were back on their feet repeating the same steps.
Artillerymen from JGSDF and the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Division Artillery, conducted a live fire artillery exercise during Rising Thunder at Yakima Training Center, Washington, Sept. 10.
The exercise tested the two batteries on their ability to identify and provide direct fire onto a target.
"This is a unique opportunity for us," said Capt. Nicholas Lange, commander of Battery C, 1-37th FAR. "For a lot of us, this is the first opportunity to train with a military that we would consider technologically and technically on the same playing field as us."
It is also beneficial training for the JGSDF artillerymen who don't get to conduct training like this all the time.
"The live fire training, which can't be conducted in our ranges, is very effective for us," said Col. Shoji Shimomoto, commander of the 33rd IR.
The goal of the bilateral exercise is to teach and learn new ways of conducting fire missions.
"The Japanese conducted an occupation mission with their howitzers, allowing us to observe their crew drills," said Lange. "They are good soldiers and they are good at what they do."
An opportunity to train along side the American artillerymen will help the JGSDF, said Shimomoto.
"We want to conduct realistic training and employ our maximum capabilities with the U.S. Army," said Shimomoto. "The U.S. Army has a lot of knowledge and very effective equipment."
Although language seemed to be a challenge, the two were able to communicate in a common language.
"At the end of the day," said Lange, "both cannons go boom."