HARAMURA, Japan -- Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 arrived at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Haramura Maneuver Area in Hiroshima, Japan, for exercise Thunder Horse 16.2, May 8, 2016.
The exercise focuses on reinforcing skills that Marines learned during Marine Combat Training and throughout their military occupational specialty schooling in order to maintain situational readiness.
“The focus of Thunder Horse 16.2 is to train in weapons employment for Marines that have not shot table three and for Motor Transport Company to conduct convoy operations,” said Staff Sgt. Jorge Ortizescobar, company gunnery sergeant for Motor Transport Company with MWSS-171. “We need to know how to properly operate our trucks, how each truck maneuvers and how to properly load cargo, and this teaches the Marines how to drive on the Japanese highway and terrain such as here in Haramura.”
The squadron plans to conduct various drills pertaining to aviation ground support forces, aircraft salvage and recovery, convoys, direct refueling, recovery and general engineering operations, establishing a tactical motor pool, providing air operations and planning expeditionary fire rescue services.
“I am looking forward to the convoys,” said Capt. Anthony Bertoglio, motor transport company commander with MWSS-171. “We are in the training area on the unimproved roads, conducting combat patrols, including security, and taking into account possible activity because we have a simulated enemy cell. We have to worry about more than administrative patrols from one location to the other.”
To assist in accomplishing the mission, field radio operators, combat engineers, water purification specialists and heavy equipment operators accompanied MWSS-171 on the exercise.
“The engineers support us in our training mainly by conducting road clearance, but they are also training to their needs such as digging fighting holes and setting up a forward operating base,” said Ortizescobar. “Being in Haramura is a good experience for every single one of us, and we want to get all the training that we can out of this so we are better prepared for Eagle Wrath 2016 in Fuji, Japan.”
Field radio operators established radio communications for the squadron and helped conduct convoy patrols, while water purification specialists participated in the convoys, foot patrols and other exercises due to the squadron bringing their own water.
Heavy equipment operator Marines dug fighting holes for defensive positions, provided mechanical clearance with a bulldozer, conducted vehicle recovery and also participated in patrols.
“Training out here provides us an opportunity to train our combat skills,” said Bertoglio. “By coming out here we can put together the teams we need with the right personnel and equipment in order to accomplish specific tasks we don’t get to train for often but would be responsible for in a real-world situation.”
Ortizescobar said he is excited to see how each Marine acts and reacts to different scenarios they encounter during the training and seeing how much they develop toward the end.
MWSS-171 conducts exercises such as this several times a year in order to train all the Marines within the squadron, enhance their technical skills, field experience and military occupational specialty capability.
“This training benefits me by improving my leadership qualities and skills,” said Sgt. Jesus Alvarado, motor transport operator with MWSS-171. “I know I’m not perfect and that’s what I’m working toward in order to become a good convoy commander. I’m looking forward to working with my Marines and seeing what Thunder Horse 16.2 has in store for us.”