US Marines the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) members, alongside the US Army and the US Navy elements, have started a large bilateral training exercise.

Known as Resolute Dragon 2021 (RD21), the exercise is taking place at several training locations across Japan. It will run until 17 December.

The exercise will start with an opening ceremony at Ojojihara Training Area in Japan, where the US and Japanese forces will assemble for the opening remarks from senior commanders.

RD21 includes some 2,650 marines from across III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) representing all the Fleet Marine Force functions.

Aircraft from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) including multiple CH-53E Stallions, AH-1Z Vipers, MV-22B Ospreys, KC-130J Hercules, UH-1Y Venom and F/A-18E Hornets are participating in the exercise.

The exercise is designed to boost the defensive capabilities of the US-Japan alliance by refining processes for ‘bilateral command, control, and coordination’.

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It will implement all USFJ-mandated Covid-19 prevention measure to keep local Japanese communities and the combined military force safe from the virus.

3d Marine Division commanding general major general Jay Bargeron said: “Resolute Dragon 21 is an example of the strength of the US-Japan alliance, which has served as the foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific for more than 60 years.

“Through this exercise, the JGSDF and US Marine Corps will strengthen, integrate, and synchronise our complementary capabilities to ensure we remain ready and capable of defending all of Japan, safeguarding our shared values, and preserving freedom at sea.”

Marines will join nearly 1,400 of their counterparts from the 9th Division, North Eastern Army, JGSDF for the exercise.

Bargeron added: “We will operate across all domains with our Japanese allies and joint partners to maximize our ability to deter and defeat any potential threat. We are committed to remaining postured and ready to fight and win if called upon.”