Soldiers and Defense Force members share weapons knowledge
By Staff Sgt. Jaime Witt

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Members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force watch intently as soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, fire their AT4 anti-tank weapons during a demonstration of anti-tank capabilities as a part of Orient Shield 12 Monday. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jaime L. Witt)
AIBANO TRAINING AREA, JAPAN Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii trained with Japanese Ground Self Defense Force members from the 33rd Infantry Regiment, 10th Division, Middle Army Tuesday during Orient Shield 12, a bilateral training exercise taking place at Aibano Training Area, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The two-week exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Japanese units at the lowest level, emphasizing combat readiness of both forces while strengthening their relationship.

U.S. soldiers and JGSDF members exchanged information regarding each force's anti-tank capabilities with demonstrations of the respective forces' weapons systems. The JGSDF members demonstrated the use of their anti-tank missiles prior to the U.S. Soldiers' demonstration of their AT4 anti-tank weapon.

Sgt. Andrew Romero of Springer, N.M., a vehicle squad leader with Company C, 1-14th Infantry, explained the capabilities and operation of the AT4 prior to the live-fire demonstration.

The point of the exercise was to familiarize and display the U.S. Army's anti-tank capabilities while interacting with the JGSDF, Romero said.

Staff Sgt. Mark Gavin of Napa, Calif., squad leader with Company C, 1-14th Infantry enjoyed the opportunity to trade more tactical training with the JGDSF. Gavin was one of five chosen to fire the AT4 during the demonstration.

"I've never had the opportunity to work with another professional army," Gavin said. "It is easy to work with them. They know how to think tactically, and we think the same."

Sgt. 1st Class Tsuyoshi Suzumura with the JGSDF, was impressed by the demonstration.

"They were very loud," Suzumura said.

Spc. Kristoffer Eszlinger, armorer with Company A, 1-14th Infantry, enjoys the cultural experience of training with the Japanese. What he enjoys most is the similarities between the two forces, especially the professionalism and discipline.

"It just proves that no matter where you go, a soldier's a soldier," Eszlinger said.