JSDF amphibious brigade joint exercise with US invites further integration

JSDF amphibious brigade joint exercise with US invites further integration

The U.S. Marines and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's amphibious brigade practice beaching their boats. Photographed by Yasuhide Matayoshi during the afternoon hours on Feb. 9, at the Kin Blue Beach Training Area in Kin, Okinawa.

February 2, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Japan Ground Self Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade conducted a joint exercise together with the U.S. military at Kin Blue Beach Training Area in Kin, Okinawa, on February 9, which was open to the news media. It is the first time for the JGSDF’s amphibious brigade, established in 2018 as a specialized unit to recapture any taken island territories, to hold its joint exercise in Okinawa. The event unveils an agenda: pave the way to future deployment of additional units to Okinawa, by continuing to engage in these drills. JGSDF-U.S. Marine Corps joint exercises are increasing not only in Okinawa, but in other parts of Japan as well, evidencing the progression of Japan-U.S. integration.

Sunday, Kin Blue Beach Training Area—more than ten boats appeared from a naval vessel parked offshore, delivering Japanese and American soldiers to the beach. The pack stayed low and advanced with guns at the ready, but they were soon spotted by the simulated enemy and a gunfight ensued. Blank rounds were fired during the drills, but the scene looked like an actual battlefield, filled with white smoke. American soldiers and JSDF members intensely communicated in English.

After overtaking the enemy, the water-splashing U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) landed, producing an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, on to the beach. The HIMARS battalion was first deployed to the U.S. Marine Corps base in Okinawa in 2016, and this was the first time a LCAC was used in a HIMARS landing training.

Following the drill, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit commander, Col. Robert B. Brodie stressed that, “Working together with the JSDF amphibious brigade is conducive to strengthening all types of missions.”

JSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, which was designed after the U.S. Marine Corps, has continually engaged in joint exercises with the U.S., domestically and abroad. At present, the 2nd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment is stationed in Nagasaki prefecture. Rumors has it that a plan to station a 3rd regiment in Okinawa is underway.

A Defense Ministry official commented, “[Deployment to] Okinawa would be difficult, given the current environment and opposition but conducting these joint exercises will continue to be indispensable.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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