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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2020

First in, Last Out: Marines from 7th Communication Battalion participate in Yama Sakura 79

By Courtesy Story 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

OKINAWA, Japan -- U.S. Marines from 7th Communication Battalion (Comm Bn), III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group participated in Yama Sakura 79 with Marines from 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) as well as soldiers from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), Dec. 9 to Dec. 14, 2020 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.

During Yama Sakura 79, 7th Comm Bn supported nearly 200 users on several network enclaves. Prior to the start date, 7th Comm Bn performed a week long Communication Exercise to test the equipment and the configurations that were planned for the exercise. This allowed the detachment to identify any shortfalls of equipment and for the Communication-Electronics Maintenance (COMMEX) Marines to inspect equipment for operability and serviceability prior to the operation date.

After the COMMEX, 7th Comm Bn convoyed to Camp Courtney a week before the exercise with the equipment planned for the operation. Across Camp Courtney, they installed, operated and maintained communications equipment at several different sites including the site used by the ARDB. In order to connect all of these systems together and get them online, they ran hundreds of meters worth of cables across varying sites. After setup, they finalized the installation and verified services before any users showed up to use the systems.

During the exercise, the Marines made configurations to the network as needed to provide quality service on the systems to the users to make sure that could use their systems with as little lag time and latency as possible and maintained the network, server, and transmissions systems to support the exercise. Even after the exercise ended, 7th Comm Bn supported the ARDB for their final requirements before they departed.

“I couldn’t be any more proud of the work that my Marines have accomplished here during Yama Sakura. The many hours spent troubleshooting network configurations, establishing transmission systems, maintaining operable equipment, and securing the network just goes to show that even during a global pandemic, Marines maintain the capability to execute the mission,” said 1st Lt. Dayan Oduma, 1st Platoon Commander, Bravo Company, 7th Communication Battalion.

The detachment consisted of Marines from the Communications community (06XX), Defensive Cyberspace Operations-Internal Defensive Measures community (17XX) and the Communications-Electronics Maintenance community (28XX) in order to install, operate, and maintain communications during the conduct of the exercise. Marines from these communities tend to be the first in to setup the site and some of the last to leave.

Yama Sakura is an annual command post exercise that strengthens bilateral military operations, readiness, trust and friendship between U.S. Forces and the JGSDF. This exercise has provided the opportunity for 7th Comm Bn to increase interoperability between U.S. Marines and the ARDB by installing, operating and maintaining communication assets to 3D MEB and the ARDB during this command post exercise. U.S. Marines and JGSDF continually work together ensuring that they can rapidly react to counter aggression against Japan and other allies and partners.

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. Marines from other III Marine Expeditionary Force major subordinate commands assist the 3D MEB with non-organic structure and equipment, enabling 3D MEB to a provide rapidly-employable C2 node to conduct expeditionary advanced base operations as may be required against a near-peer adversary. 3D MEB remains a resilient, ready, and relevant force and is III MEF’s crisis contingency task force.

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