Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | July 12, 2021

Exercise Orient Shield Breaks Boundaries

By Maj. Elias Chelala U.S. Army Japan

CAMP ITAMI, Japan – U.S. Army Japan facilitated the deployment of over 1,600 Soldiers and hundreds of pieces of equipment from the continental United States to multiple training locations throughout Japan from June 7 to July 10 as part of exercise Orient Shield 21-2. This was the largest number of troops and pieces of equipment deployed to Japan in support of an Army exercise since the COVID-19 pandemic and included numerous forms of integrated transportation including the synchronization of air, ground, and maritime assets.

OS21-2 is the largest U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force bilateral field training exercise (FTX) in Japan that included training participants from the 40th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion 28th Infantry Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade – SFAB, and JGSDF Middle, Northern and Western Armies.

Before the start of the exercise, the USNS Fisher with Military Sealift Command delivered over 150 pieces of equipment, including aircraft and ground vehicles to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni marking the first time an LMSR (large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off) has ever docked in mainland Japan.

“During this year’s exercise, we will jointly enhance our combat readiness and test, and refine our interoperability during multi-domain operations,” said Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, commander, 40th Infantry Division, during opening ceremony remarks. “We will also be working together to increase our skill in using intelligence to support bilateral targeting and sensor to shooter operations.”

Yeager’s infantry division successfully deployed several hundred national guardsmen from California to Sagami General Depot, Japan, where they had to undergo a two-week restriction-of-movement and COVID-19 testing prior to the opening ceremony on June 24. Since its inception in 1982, Orient Shield has evolved from a battalion-level FTX into a division-level bilateral combined FTX and command post exercise (CPX).

Highly qualified members from the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade’s intelligence and fires advisors provided support to the JGSDF and 40th ID as part of the CPX also marking the first utilization of the SFAB during a bilateral exercise in Japan.
“During Orient Shield, our ability to operate was greatly enhanced through close coordination in a bilateral fire direction center,” said Maj. Wesley Martin, battalion executive officer, 1-94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade. This command post served to facilitate rapid sharing of crucial information to include targets, battle damage reports, and synchronization of position areas for launchers.”

For the first time ever a U.S. Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and JGSDF Multiple Launch Rocket System conducted bilateral live fire in Japan. This would not have been possible without the bilateral Fire Direction Center, which ensured the forces to successfully execute and launch 12 fire missions at Yausubetsu Training Area in Hokkaido.

“This was extremely helpful for the Soldiers and members of both forces to gain personal experience and mutual understanding of partnered force operations,” said Martin. “The terrain at Yausubetsu Training Area represented a new opportunity to refine basic skills at the section and platoon-level with the added challenge of safely and successfully live firing over three days.”

In the Southern Island-Chain of Japan, the U.S. Marine Corps vessel USNS Guam transported critical cargo and passengers with 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion from Naha Port, Okinawa to Amami Island. This was also the first time a Minimum Engagement Package, U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) and JGSDF Type O3 Chu-SAM got to train together on integrated air and missile defense in an Anti-Access Area Denial scenario on Camp Amami.

“Here at Camp Amami, a JGSDF mid-range surface to air missile unit and a U.S. Patriot missile unit are conducting bilateral air defense training,” said Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida, chief of staff, JGSDF. “The security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe. Whatever happens, the Japan-U.S. land component will cooperate closely to enhance deterrent and operational capability and contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.”

During his visit to Amami, Yoshida also held a bilateral press conference with Brig. Gen. JB Vowell, commander, U.S. Army Japan. Together, the two answered several questions from nearly 20 Japanese reporters while the PAC-3 and Chu-SAM were in an elevated position in the background.

“This exercise symbolizes that this partnership, this friendship, between the Armies of the U.S. and Japan is ironclad,” said Vowell. “Our adversaries do not have anything like this important relationship. They know that going forward together as Allies is our greatest strength. In terms of military competition, I think we are winning together every day.”

OS21-2 strengthened U.S. Army and JGSDF interoperability and demonstrated both countries commitments to the U.S.-Japan alliance and the security of the Indo-Pacific region.

Back in JGSDF Middle Army’s area of operations, the 1st Battalion 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 3rd Infantry Division, trained alongside the JGSDF 15th Rapid Deployment Regiment to showcase their maneuver tactics and techniques at Aibano Training Area. This was the first time the 3rd ID participated in exercise Orient Shield and the units were successfully able to execute bilateral Air Assault, Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), medical evacuation, and mortar training.

Also at Aibano, members from the 340th Chemical Company trained with the 14th and 102nd Nuclear Biological Chemical units where they responded to a scenario of U.S. Forces being attacked by a drone carrying sarin gas. After quickly identifying the cause, they had to perform causality evacuation and decontamination procedures. The 102nd and 14th will go on to support the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics where they will stand ready to respond to any contingency.

Additionally, OS21-2 had bilateral aviation training at Camp Akeno, where 2-6 Cavalry Squadron, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, was integrated into U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan under Task Force Ninja. Its forward-deployed AH-64 Apache helicopters were able to conduct aviation operations in support of the exercise with JGSDF Middle Army Aviation Group allowing bilateral flight formations to include U.S. UH-60s, and JGSDF AH-1s and CH-47s.

Soldiers and JGSDF members were also exposed to multiple unique geographical training environments like the guard and protect mission at Kyogamisaki Communications Site between the 8th Military Police Brigade and JGSDF MA, 7th Infantry Regiment.

“Orient Shield 21 is our most important and our largest event together,” said Vowell. “It highlights our commitments to assuring our Partners and Allies while deterring our potential adversaries from unwarranted aggression.”

This was the largest demonstration by USARJ in support of U.S. Army Pacific to project theater Army land power to Japan, which certainly paved the way for the exercise to evolve and experiment in future iterations.

OS21-2 demonstrated that the U.S. Army and JGSDF could execute multi-domain and cross-domain operations throughout Japan that included live, virtual, and constructive aspects of bilateral targeting, lethal long-range precision fires, guard and protect missions, chemical response training, joint watercraft system movement, aviation operations, and integrated air defense capabilities.

Like Us
Follow Us



USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Departs Yokosuka for 2022 Deployment
The U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departs Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) for a regularly scheduled deployment, May 20, 2022. Ronald Reagan is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. For more than 75 years, CFAY has provided, maintained, and operated base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, tenant commands, and thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families.
May 20, 2022 - YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and its strike group departed Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) May 20, to support security and stability in the...

Army Leaders Across Indo-Pacific Meet to Discuss Challenges, Opportunities
Gen. Charles A. Flynn, left center, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, and Maj. Gen. JB Vowell, left, commander of U.S. Army Japan, hold a bilateral engagement with Lt. Gen. Toshikazu Yamane, right center, vice chief of staff for the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, in Honolulu May 18, 2022. Senior leaders from the U.S. Army and more than 20 foreign armies held hundreds of bilateral talks during the Land Forces Pacific Symposium, the largest land power conference in the Indo-Pacific region.
May 20, 2022 - HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Senior leaders from the U.S. Army and more than 20 foreign armies held hundreds of bilateral talks during the largest land power conference in the Indo-Pacific region.The meetings, part of the Land Forces...

Second Iwakuni-based F-35B Squadron Declares Full Operational Capability
U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, May 17, 2022. Following successful completion of Exercise RED FLAG 22-1, VMFA-242 achieved full operational capability, allowing them to execute a full set of missions as an F-35B Lightning II squadron.
May 20, 2022 - IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, Japan -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) and is now ready to support the full complement of its missions. A significant part of this milestone is the...

Army Leaders Say Alliances Will be Key to Success in the Indo-Pacific
Lt. Gen. Willard Burleson (left), the Combined Forces command chief of staff and commander of Eighth Army, greets South Korea's president elect, Yoon Suk-yeol, at Desiderio Arifield on Camp Humphreys, South Korea on Apr. 7, 2022.
May 20, 2022 - HONOLULU, Hawaii -- More than 70 years ago, U.S. forces learned the importance of readiness and partner nation alliances during the Korean War, an Army leader said during the 2022 Land Forces Pacific (LANPAC) Symposium...

U.S. Commitment to Indo-Pacific Region Not Limited by Security Assistance to Ukraine
A M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle from 4th Squadron, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division crosses the Improved Ribbon Bridge (IPB) placed by 11th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division (ROK-US Combined Division), Republic of Korea, May 18, 2022; the 11th Engineer Battalion and 4th Squadron, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division worked together to construct an Improved Ribbon Bridge (IRB) to allow the crossing by M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradly Infantry fighting Vehicles. Soldiers from across the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team “Ready First”, 1st Armored Division (the current 2nd Infantry Division (ROK-US Combined Division) rotational brigade) as well as other units from 2ID participated in the “Warrior Ready Strike” training exercise to increase their proficiency, learn about operating in the Republic of Korea, and re-affirm the commitment to the ROK-US Alliance.
May 20, 2022 - WASHINGTON -- As of May 6, the U.S. has committed about $4.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. Thousands of pieces of military hardware and over 50 million rounds of ammunition were included.Spotlight: Support for...