NEWS | Dec. 11, 2020

Japanese and U.S. military work to improve interoperability

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade is taking part in Yama Sakura 79 alongside III Marine Expeditionary Force’s 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Dec. 9 to Dec. 14, 2020. Leading the ARDB in this exercise is Maj. Gen. Takanori Hirata.

Established in 2018, the ARDB is the JGSDF’s developing amphibious force. Most recently, the ARDB took part in Keen Sword 21, working alongside Marines with 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment during an amphibious assault on the island of Gaja-Jima.

During Yama Sakura 79, an annual command post exercise, the ARDB is working with 3D MEB to command and control in a contested area. This command and control exercise encompasses large distances using the sea to maneuver while establishing expeditionary advance bases in order to occupy key terrain. Even though this exercise is simulated, the ARDB and 3D MEB train as they fight and the skills they hone are real, and those skills are fundamental to warfighting.

“Our center of gravity is not a weapon system or unit,” said Brig. Gen. Kyle B. Ellison, 3D MEB commanding general. “Instead, it’s our ability to operate as one team, it’s our ability to compete and fight now, together.”

Exercises like Yama Sakura increase interoperability between units. The 3D MEB and ARDB train to remain resilient, ready, and relevant in an ever changing environment.

“I believe we will have a fruitful outcome,” said Maj. Gen. Takanori Hirata, ARDB commander. “I hope this will be a springboard operation to strengthen our military ties in the future.”

Beginning in 1982, Yama Sakura has contributed to the interoperability between U.S. forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces. With the ongoing pandemic, 3D MEB and the ARDB remain vigilant to health precautions while remaining committed to excellence in bilateral exercises like Yama Sakura 79. This year, 3D MEB and the ARDB play a part in the larger U.S. Army First Corps and JGSDF’s Western Army exercise events.