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U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Zachary Scalzo participates in a combat marksmanship range during exercise Fuji Viper 20.1 in Camp Fuji, Japan, Oct. 16, 2019. Fuji Viper is a regularly scheduled training evolution for infantry units assigned to 3rd Marine Division as part of the unit deployment program. The training allows units to maintain their lethality and proficiency in infantry and combined arms tactics. Scalzo is assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Hernandez)

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Hernandez

3rd Marine Division participates in Fuji Viper 20-1

27 Oct 2019 | Cpl. Timothy Hernandez 3rd Marine Division

CAMP FUJI, GOTEMBA, Japan -- U.S. Marines and Sailors with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, currently deployed 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, as part of the Unit Deployment Program, are participating in Fuji Viper 20-1 in Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Gotemba, Japan from Sep. 29 to Nov. 4, 2019.

Fuji Viper 20-1 is an infantry training exercise centered around increasing the Marine Corps’ presence, lethality and capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region. The Marines of 2/2 have conducted many training events in the Combined Arms Training Center, as well as community relations events with the local community.

“Our goal for Fuji Viper 20-1 is to conduct combined arms training in order to sustain readiness by maximizing valuable assets in a new environment that offers opportunities unavailable at Camp Schwab or even back home in Camp Lejeune,” said Staff Sgt. Krysta Apodaca, the communications and information systems radio chief. “By attending Fuji Viper, we are able to integrate all elements of the battalion into organized small-unit training that will enable us to win the fight at any given time.”

These field exercises are meant to push Marines to their physical and mental limits as well as build confidence as warfighters in the Indo-Pacific theater. Marines had to push outside of their comfort zone while spending many nights in the field. Their training included combat marksmanship, incidental observer training, military operations in urban terrain, and force on force simulations where the three platoons are faced against each other in an unknown training area.

“The most difficult part of the training was pushing through seemingly endless movements throughout one night of our force on force exercise,” said Lance Cpl. Mark Taylor, a grenadier with Company F. “We had to endure the night during flooding and the cold rain, all while we’re in the woods with no Illumination; there was so much rain.”

Given a new terrain and climate, platoons were faced against each other in multiple simulated combat force on force field exercises. Objectives were given to the platoons, and squads were tasked with finding a way to complete them.

Even with the rigorous training conducted in the field, the Marines and Sailors were given time to explore the area and interact with the local community.

“Marines were given a three-day weekend during the initial portion of our training at Camp Fuji to explore Tokyo, Gotemba, and the surrounding area around Mount Fuji,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Scalzo, Company F executive officer. “Marines experienced the culture of mainland Japan and had great things to say about the people in the greater Gotemba area. At the end of our time at Camp Fuji, our Marines are scheduled to volunteer at the National CHUO Youth Friendship Center open-house event. Marines will speak English with participants from the center and participate in face painting and a tea ceremony.”

The training and tactics currently being conducted in Camp Fuji are essential to the warfighting capabilities and readiness of the Marine Air Ground Task Force in the Indo-Pacific region, and the 3rd Marine Division’s capability to fight tonight.