The Amphibious Assault Crewman Course is currently training members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force on Pendleton.
The members of the JGSDF are training as part of the Foreign Military Sales Program.
“We have two different programs that bring international militaries here to train with Marines,” said Courtney A. Johnson, the international military student officer with the School of Infantry. “One of them is the Foreign Military Sales, which is what most of our students fall under. The other is International Military Education and Training Program, where the U.S. will give grants to countries who cannot afford it and they use the money to go to courses here.”
The programs allow foreign militaries to attend courses such as the School of Infantry and Staff Academy, according to Johnson.
“We get students from Brazil, Korea and various other countries that have the same vehicles as us,” said Ricardo Figueroa, the lead instructional systems specialist with Assault Amphibian School Battalion.
Some countries will request instructors coming to their country to teach a larger group of students, according to Figueroa.
“It is important to bring other countries because we go to combat with them,” said Johnson. “Giving them the training gives us a sense of togetherness; they have an understanding of what we do which makes it easier to work together.”
The six members of the JGSDF are a special case because Japan is preparing to receive Assault Amphibious Vehicles, according to Johnson.
“Everything we have learned about the AAV is important,” said Master Sgt. Yasahi Yamakawa, a member of the JGSDF, who is currently a student in the Amphibious Assault Crewman Course. “We have learned radio communications, driving on land, driving on water, and preventative maintenance. It is all very important because we are the first soldiers to train on AAVs.”
The members of the JGSDF have two missions during the course, according to Yamakawa. The first is to learn about AAVs and the second is to report everything they have learned to the JGSDF to prepare for receiving their own vehicles.
“It is rare for us to take a course like this,” said Sgt. First Class Yoji Yamaguchi, a member of the JGSDF, who is currently a student in the Amphibious Assault Crewman Course. “This is a great opportunity and experience for us not only to learn but to maintain a good relationship between the Japanese and U.S. forces.”