Exercise Fire Dragon 13-2 commences at Camp Fuji

Exercise Fire Dragon

LCpl Austin J. Lapierre fires an M777 A2 155 mm howitzer Jan. 30 during Exercise Fire Dragon 13-2 in the East Fuji Maneuver Area. The live-fire portion of Fire Dragon provides Marines the opportunity to enhance their mission capabilities in artillery operations. Lapierre is a field artillery cannoneer with 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Photo by Cpl Carl G. Payne.

CAMP FUJI, JAPAN (February 7, 2013) - Marines began regimental-level artillery Exercise Fire Dragon 13-2 Jan. 28 at the North and East Fuji Maneuver Areas.

The Marines of 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, are conducting artillery live-fire, small-arms, crew-served weapons and convoy training to maintain combat readiness.

"Fire Dragon is an important exercise for the 12th Marine Regiment," said LtCol Jason P. Brown, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment. "As part of the regiment, 3rd Battalion has deployed part of its Headquarters Battery, and 1st Battalion has deployed Echo Battery. The exercise is designed to allow the regiment to conduct live-fire artillery training in the North and East Fuji Maneuver Areas."

Echo Battery is conducting the live-fire portion of training while Headquarters Battery is exercising command and control of Echo Battery.

"As the only firing battery taking part in Fire Dragon, our role is to conduct fire and maneuver drills to maintain and increase combat readiness," said GySgt Christopher K. Folkes, battery gunnery sergeant for Echo Battery.

Safety is paramount during any training evolution, and to promote safe training, Marines conducted route reconnaissance patrols prior to live-fire training, according to Folkes.

"Most of the Marines in Echo Battery have not been to Camp Fuji before, so this training area is new to them," said Folkes. "We usually train in Hawaii at the Pohakuloa Training Area, which never has snow and is not as high in elevation as Camp Fuji, so it was important to familiarize the Marines with the maneuver areas."

Adjusting to the terrain and climate creates challenges not only for transporting equipment and personnel, but also for small-unit leaders, according to Brown.

"I want to see engaged small-unit leadership during this exercise," said Brown. "I want to see noncommissioned officers rise to the occasion and stay engaged with their Marines while keeping their health and welfare at the forefront of daily activities."

The regiment's NCOs are ready to rise to any challenges during the exercise, according to Cpl Peter K. Daugherty, a motor transport mechanic for 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.

"Small-unit leadership is crucial during exercises like this because NCOs have the opportunity to constantly be around their Marines," said Daugherty. "It provides us with the chance to operate in a deployed environment and accomplish our mission while ensuring the safety and well-being of our Marines."

Despite the challenges that lay ahead, the Marines are excited about the exercise, according to Folkes.

"We are constantly preparing ourselves to fight in any clime and place," said Folkes.


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