U.S. Marines with 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade and soldiers with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade spent over a week advancing their operational capabilities, interoperability and partnership through exercise Yama Sakura 75 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.
Yama Sakura enhanced the alliance and interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces and allowed them to plan and execute amphibious operations together in the construct of a computer simulation.
“The purpose of Yama Sakura is to allow U.S. forces and Japanese forces to work together to improve our interoperability, our friendship and our partnership so we can work together if we are ever called to defend Japanese territory,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher McPhillips, the Commanding General of 3D MEB.
Yama Sakura is an annual command post exercise that features a fictional territorial-defense scenario, allowing U.S. and Japanese forces to advance their bilateral capabilities and partnership as part of a real-time computer simulation. This year’s exercise was led by the JGSDF North Eastern Army and U.S. Army Pacific I Corps on Camp Sendai, Sendai, Japan. 3D MEB and the JGSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade participated as a supporting effort, along with U.S. and Japanese Sailors and Airmen, as well as Soldiers from the Australian Defense Force observing the training.
The U.S. and Japanese forces benefitted by working together and exchanging ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences to overcome obstacles throughout the simulation, further enhancing their ability to conduct dispersed, bilateral command and control.
“The U.S. and Japan are allies,” said Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki, the commander of JGSDF’s ARDB. “We found it very valuable to improve interoperability and build trust through this Yama Sakura exercise as we performed the operation shoulder to shoulder.”
Yama Sakura 75 marked the second exercise in 2018 when 3D MEB partnered with the ARDB, which stood up in 2018 in order to advance the JGSDF’s amphibious capabilities.
“We, the ARDB, we are newly established in March of this year,” said Aoki. “We participated in this Yama Sakura so that we can learn from the 3D MEB to improves our skills and be better prepared for operations.”
As Yama Sakura 75 came to an end, both the 3D MEB Marines and ARDB Soldiers left with new friendships lessons as they looked ahead toward future training opportunities together.
“It has been exciting to work side by side with the ARDB,” said Pfc. John Zamora, a network administer with 7th Communications Battalion. “This was a great chance to not only meet and work closely with their military, but build that connection as we work and overcame obstacles together.”
The U.S. is committed to working with its allies and friends to promote security and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific.