US-Japan Practice Ryukyu Island Defense

Discussion in 'East Asia & The Pacific' started by Pathfinder, Feb 12, 2017.

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

    Dec 17, 2015
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    US, Japan Practice Defending Ryukyu Islands


    On Monday, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force launched the 12th iteration of the amphibious warfare exercise Iron Fist 2017, held at Camp Pendleton and San Clemente Island in southern California.

    The exercise involves 500 U.S. Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and over 250 soldiers of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s Western Army Infantry Regiment. According to a U.S. Pacific Command press release, the exercise will include “advanced marksmanship, amphibious reconnaissance, landing, and assault operations.”

    The exercise is specifically designed to conduct combined amphibious warfare operations at the platoon, company, and battalion levels.

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    This year, a major emphasis will be laid on training Japanese soldiers in the use of the Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) 7, designed for assaults on shorelines. It can transport both naval infantry — up to 24 marines — and cargo. As I reported elsewhere, Japan is expected to receive a total of 30 new AAVs by the end of this year.

    “We have a lot to learn from this, especially the combined arms combat operations and we are ready to learn from the Marines here at Camp Pendleton,” said Japanese Colonel Ryuji Toyota, the commanding officer of the Western Army Infantry Regiment. As I reported last January, Japan intends to stand up a new amphibious warfare brigade in 2017:

    The initial size of the brigade will be around 2,000 troops, but this is slated to increase to 3,000 once the force becomes fully operational sometime in 2018. The new brigade’s principal mission will be to defend the 6,000 islands and islets of the Ryukyu Islands chain, which stretches southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan.

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