Yakima, Wash.- U.S. military training is incremental. Crawl, walk, run. Its methodology starts at the lowest level for everyone- first learn basic skills, then put those skills together to make a function, and finally create an operation with many functions.
When two nations participate in the this type of training side by side, it's a unique experience with lasting effects. Rising Thunder 2019 is an annual exercise joining the U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force here at the Yakima Training Center.
U.S. Army units participating include the 7th Infantry Division and the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Illinois National Guard. The exercise, held August 20 through September 13, consists of company/platoon unilateral and bilateral training events in two phases, culminating with a bilateral live fire exercise.
"Today we are doing weapons qualification to assess the Soldiers and see where they are at in regards to readiness for their live fire," said 2nd Lt. Andrew Shinsako, platoon leader for 1st Platoon, A Co., 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment.
"The overarching operation for the annual training is to build a rapport with the Japanese forces and then through that conduct a live fire exercise with them," Shinsako continued. "It's important to work with the Japanese forces and our allies to build a good rapport to learn how they work and how we work and how to work together for future engagements."
Shinsako communicated this principal of building a rapport with the Japanese military to his Soldiers, many of whom have never deployed. This will be their first time interacting with a foreign military.
"We are zeroing (our weapons) then doing the qualification range. Then doing the shoot house later on and over time incorporating with the Japanese," said Spc. John Brady, mortarman with the 1-178th Inf. Reg.
Brady said that he's excited to have the opportunity to come on this training exercise and learn from his Japanese counterparts, emphasizing his enjoyment of their interactions.
"We have a lot of similarities," concluded Brady.
Spc. Patrick Josef Cacho, an infantryman with the 1-178th Inf. Reg., echoed Brady's and Shinsako's sentiments, saying it's all about building close relations with the Japanese.
"It's a neat feeling," Cacho said. "You normally don't get this experience in the military."