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Scots’ soldiers embed with Japanese troops

Sixteen soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) became the first British Army troops to embed with Japanese forces during a major exercise last month.

The Scottish troops, who are based in Fort George near Inverness, operated as part of the 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade during Exercise Vigilant Isles in Japan.

They were joined in the Far East by soldiers from B Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR) and 16 Air Assault Brigade.

The British Army personnel trained alongside approximately 400 Japanese troops.

During the functional live fire tactical training phase at Sekiyama, the 3 SCOTS soldiers embedded with a recce platoon from the Japanese 1st Airborne Brigade.

The soldiers from Scotland operated a Parrot Anafi drone to locate ‘enemy’ troops.

Corporal Fraser Hall, 3 SCOTS said:

“It’s been eye-opening to work with the Japanese, embedded with their recce forces and giving them drone capability on the ground.

“We’ve had to get used to their tactics and how they do things slightly differently. It’s been a really good experience in a beautiful country.”

It’s been eye-opening to work with the Japanese, embedded with their recce forces and giving them drone capability on the ground. Corporal Fraser Hall, 3 SCOTS

At the Exercise Vigilant Isles opening ceremony, Corporal Hall played the bagpipes to accompany Scotland the Brave, the regimental march of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and Hielen’ Laddie, the antecedent regimental march of The Black Watch.

Corporal Hall added:

“We find that the bagpipes break a lot of barriers down. It was a good route in that helped us talk to the Japanese and have a bit of banter with them.”

Lance Corporal Bart Pritchard, 3 SCOTS, said:

“It’s been a good experience to see how best we can utilise the Parrot drone on the ground and for the Japanese to get eyes on without having to push themselves into potentially dangerous positions.

“When we did the live fire package with the Japanese, it was interesting because, although we speak different languages, as soon as the rounds started going down you could work out what was going on.

“It was that international thing of right, we’re up, we’re moving, we’re down, we’re covering fire. So we knew what they were trying to tell us and it went smoothly.”

Private Morgan Marler, 3 SCOTS, said:

“We have thermal capability with the drone and we can see enemy targets from up to two kilometres away.

“It’s a really good piece of kit that the Japanese have found very useful. We’ve been happy to share it with them as well as some of our skills and drills.”

In the second week of Exercise Vigilant Isles, the soldiers from 3 SCOTS remained fully embedded with the Japanese companies during the comprehensive training phase at Ojyojibara camp, 400 kilometres north of Tokyo.

Advance infiltration units from the British and Japanese sides deployed on to the ground where they had 24 hours to identify enemy locations.

Japanese advance forces landed by parachute while a British Army aviation assault was launched from a CH-47 Chinook, comprising a bilateral attack.

Major Carl Shroeder, Officer Commanding, B Coy 1RGR, said:

“We have started the relationship between 3 SCOTS, 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade and the Japanese forces and that’s a partnership which will grow over the years.”

3 SCOTS also provided observer and mentor teams, and a liaison officer network across the Japanese battlegroup during Exercise Vigilant Isles.