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U.S., Japanese Soldiers practice squad live fire during Orient Shield

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Soldiers communicated silently as they lingered along the tall grassy field in anticipation of an ambush as Japanese watched the ongoing bi-lateral training exercise at Nashigahara Barracks at Kita-Fuji Training Area in Yamanoshi Prefecture, Japan, Oct. 14, 2011.

Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, out of Weslaco, Texas and the 1st Division, Eastern Army, Japan Ground Self Defense Force, or JGSDF, are taking part of Orient Shield 11, which is a bi-lateral training exercise that allows them to exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experience.

Spc. Kevin W. Laurent, a paralegal with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, said the squad training allows the Soldiers and JGSDF members to watch and learn the movements and how to adapt and improvise on their tactics. The mission will show each Soldier how to operate as a team, how each individual can improve themselves for a real situation and how each force operates under the pressure, he said.

The squad movement exercise is only one mission of a bigger exercise, which will allow both forces to try it under a mock field training exercise, said Laurent.

"It's been a great training operation so far," said Laurent. "It was amazing. I learned a lot doing tactical formations, doing hand signals, firing techniques, communications, movements."

He said he admires the members of the JGSDF. There has been a lot of hands-on training, which has allowed U.S. and Japanese Soldiers to communicate and share experiences.

Spc. Sergio N. Navarro, an army logistics Soldiers with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry, out of Rio Grande Valley, Texas, said when he watched the JGSDF members do their tactical training, they did it with style and surprised a few Soldiers.

"To my surprise and to my friends surprise, they seem to be pretty good shooters," said Navarro.

The JGSDF members have the same camaraderie and they take care of each other just as American forces, he said. They also are very proficient at what they do and put a great amount of respect in to what they do and toward each other, said Navarro.

"I just want to thank the Japanese (soldiers) for giving us the opportunity to train with them," said Navarro. "It is a once in a lifetime thing. We need to take the time and enjoy it. Learn the best (tactics), and get the best out of it."

The exercise marks the 12th iteration of Orient Shield, which is designed to improve the United States and Japan's combat readiness and interoperability at the tactical level while strengthening bilateral relationships to support the security interests of friends and allies within the area.

Article by Sgt. Ryan L. Twist, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment