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Oregon Guard Soldiers Train Japanese Troops for Deployment to IraqRussell Bassett for Salem-News.com
Orient Shield 2007, an annual training exercise between the U.S. and Japanese armies began Monday with an opening ceremony at the Sekiyama Maneuver Area in Honshu, Japan.
(NIIGATA,, Japan) - As the world watches North Korea, which tested a nuclear weapon Oct. 9th, members of the Oregon National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry are demonstrating what they call a strong partnership between the United States and Japan.
"This exercise will be an opportunity to enhance Japanese Ground Self Defense Force/U.S. Army combat readiness and demonstrate to Asia the alliance between our countries," 2nd Bn., 162nd Inf. Commander Lt. Col. Edward Tanguy said during the ceremony. "By the end of the exercise, we all will achieve enduring bilateral relationships, good will and mutual understanding … through tough training and cultural exchange."
"At this time, we establish the occasion for both Japan and the U.S. to make groups and conduct the training with close cooperation," Sekine said.
Monday evening, the soldiers from both units worked on achieving mutual understanding at a party held in nearby Joetsu. The language difference was no barrier, as the soldiers enjoyed traditional Japanese food and drink together.
"There's a feeling of unity between the two organizations, and that was seen at last night's opening party," Eugene resident and 2-162's operations noncommissioned officer Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Glesmann said. "There is a respect there. They are definitely very disciplined and extremely organized"
The training began in earnest the next morning with helicopter and traffic control point operations.
The Oregon citizen Soldiers have much experience conducting traffic checkpoints, as the operations were a regular part of the routine in 2004 when the unit was in Baghdad for Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
Several of the Japanese soldiers also bring experience from tours in Iraq. Japan deployed about 600 soldiers to Iraq in early 2004. The deployment marked a significant turning point in Japan's history, as it was the first time since the end of World War II that Japan sent troops abroad except for a few minor UN peacekeeping missions.
Japan redeployed its troops from Iraq this summer.
"You can train and train and train, but there is a perspective you learn in combat that you just can't get if you don't deploy," Tanguy added.
In Iraq, 2-162 was responsible for maintaining an area of operations in Baghdad, and was involved in fighting in Fallujah and Najaf. Members of the unit were also responsible for training the Iraqi army. The unit captured more than 100 insurgents and 300 weapons caches while in Iraq.
After the first day of training in Japan, Tanguy was pleased with what he saw.
"It's been great," the commander said. "All the Soldiers are really engaged with their Japanese counterparts, more so than I thought at this point in the exercise."
Up next for the Oregon citizen Soldiers is training on individual weapons and then cordon and search procedures.
During Saturday's short break in the training, they will get to experience Japanese culture through tours and home visits with Japanese families.
"They'll get a greater understanding of another culture and a greater appreciation of the diverse world we live in, which will have an impact, I think, on their home communities," Tanguy concluded. "The people back home should know that their Guard Soldiers are representing Oregon and the U.S. very well. They can be proud of them."
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