The 13th US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force have jointly concluded the annual bilateral training exercise, Iron Fist 2013, off Camp Pendleton, California, US, designed to enhance interoperability between the two nations.
During the four-week theatre security cooperation exercise, personnel from both nations conducted joint operations, starting from training small unit skills and steadily moving to complex company-sized manoeuvres.
JGSDF troops with the Western Army Infantry Regiment also performed first flight onboard the MV-22B Osprey aircraft, as well as conducted other missions focusing on bilateral amphibious operations alongside US troops.
Commenting on the exercise, 13th MEU I MEF air officer major Frank Garner said: "It allows the Marine Air Ground Task Force commander to mass force more quickly and at greater distances than ever before."
Demonstrating amphibious and heliborne ship-to-shore movement of the aircraft, around 50 personnel from JMSDF boarded four MV-22B Osprey aircraft and departed from the US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, USS Boxer (LHD-4).
After leaving the aircraft, amphibious operations included securing an area to conduct follow-on missions by an urban combat town and mechanised assault course.
Designed to improve military-to-military relations between participating nations, the bilateral drill also helps sharpen essential skill sets of the participating forces to effectively and efficiently deliver crisis response.
In addition, Exercise Iron Fist intends to maintain effective military-to-military relationships based on common interests related to maritime security, counter terrorism, defence trade and security.
Image: US and Japan troops conducting missions as a part of Exercise Iron Fist 2013. Photo: courtesy of captain Esteban Vickers.