NEWS | Dec. 16, 2019

U.S. and Japan conduct bilateral exercise Yama Sakura 77

By Staff Sgt. Jordan Gilbert 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan (Dec. 14, 2019) – U.S. Marines and U.S. Army Soldiers, alongside members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), participated in Exercise Yama Sakura 77 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 9-16, 2019, strengthening military operations, readiness, trust and friendship between U.S. forces and the JGSDF.

“This training is one of the most important events for us,” said JGSDF Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki, the Commanding General of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB). “Through this training, the goal is to strengthen effective cooperation with the 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade, as well as to further the ARDB headquarters and improve staff performance.”

Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral, command post exercise that allows for the exchange of techniques and military experience while exercising simulated capabilities in the defense of Japan.

The exercise enabled U.S. and Japanese forces to come together and hone bilateral planning capabilities. By sharing tactics, techniques and procedures, both forces expanded their military proficiency and interoperability.

“Working with the Marines was quite impressive,” said JGSDF Sgt. 1st Class Sousuke Mori, who served as a Liaison Officer during the exercise. “I am sure the Japanese are learning not only from operations, but also from how the Marines are operating.”

Yama Sakura 77 was co-led by the JGSDF’s Eastern Army and U.S. Army Pacific’s I Corps. The main events took place at Camp Asaka, Tokyo, Japan. U.S. Marines from 3D MEB and Japanese service-members from the ARDB supported the exercise from Okinawa. Soldiers from the Australian Army and Canadian Army also participated as observers.

The exercise simulation’s fictional defense scenario required Japanese and U.S. forces to work together against a notional enemy.

“While the enemy may be simulated, the skills we will practice and sharpen are real, and they are fundamental to any hard alliance fight,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rock Jr., the Commanding General of 3D MEB. “I am proud to conduct this exercise together with our JGSDF partners in honor of our shared commitment to upholding regional security in the Pacific,” said Rock.

Both the United States and Japan work as dedicated partners in support of the U.S.-Japan security alliance for continued peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.