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RIMPAC 16: U.S. Marines, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force team up for beach landing

By Staff Sgt. Jesse R. Stence | 3rd Marine Regiment | July 31, 2016

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U.S. Marines and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members teamed up for an amphibious beach landing exercise at Pyramid Rock today during the final phase Rim of Pacific 2016.

The beach landing included close air support from FA-18 Hornets, followed by three waves of assault amphibious vehicles landing alongside Japanese combat rubber raiding craft.

As the AAVs launched from USS San Diego, Hornets with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 soared over Pyramid Rock. The fighters simulated an air strike to soften the enemy defenses on the beach for a landing force of JGSDF members and Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

The Marines rolled ashore aboard AAVs from Combat Assault Company, 3rd Marine Regiment as JGSDF members debarked their raiding craft. The allied forces then consolidated on the beach to establish a lodgment and prepare for follow-on offensive operations.

AH-1W Cobras circled overhead providing close air support for machine-gun teams, mortarmen, and riflemen assaulting through the objective, toward the enemy-held airfield.

U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Ray Descheneaux, the commanding general for Fleet Marine Forces during RIMPAC 16, said the exercise was executed successfully due to careful planning and progressive training. Service members from nations throughout the Pacific began RIMPAC 16 by building fundamental amphibious skills together on the shores of Oahu. U.S. Marines taught their partnered and allied forces from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Tonga how to safely board and de-board helicopters. Special civilian-contracted instructors taught them water survival techniques to help them escape from aircraft downed over water.

After familiarizing themselves with the fundamentals, the multinational force left Oahu for ranges on the Island of Hawaii and open ocean off the coast. There they conducted a variety of platoon and company-level tactics to hone skills that would apply to a larger amphibious combat scenario. Descheneaux explained that all of this preparation is coming together now, during events like the amphibious landing.

The general called the amphibious assault a success and attributed it to a collective effort to overcome communication barriers and variation in tactics among participating forces.

“Collectively, that communication piece was the foundation,” Descheneaux said. “Building on that communication piece with common tactics, techniques and proficiencies was absolutely pivotal, and it really set the success here in Hawaii …”

The Marines and JGSDF members involved in the beach landing are currently supporting Provisional Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Hawaii, a Marine Air Ground Task Force commanded by 3rd Marines. The brigade has been a multinational force since July 16, 2016 and will dissolve upon the conclusion of the exercise.

The operation was commanded by PMEB-HI, which is headquartered on USS America, along with U.S. Navy Amphibious Squadron 3. PMEB-HI executed command and control from this amphibious platform, just off the coast.

Overall, approximately 25,000 personnel from 26 nations are participating in RIMPAC 16, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to build strategic partnership between participating nations and increase safety across the world’s sea lanes and oceans.
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