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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2021

Soldiers from 5th SFAB Reinforce Marines of 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade for Yama Sakura

By 2nd Lt. Jed Arend 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

OKINAWA, Japan -- U.S. soldiers from Maneuver Advisor Team 5310, Force Package 22-1, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) reinforced 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) during exercise Yama Sakura 81 as they worked with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) beginning Dec. 6 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa and Camp Ainoura, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

“We are very happy to have the support of the 5th SFAB with us for this exercise,” said Col. Charles Readinger, chief of staff, 3D MEB. “They provide capabilities that are beyond our organic structure, as well as expertise in operating in foreign environments and with other nation’s militaries. Their standing relationships, technical savvy, and professional competence add tremendous value to 3D MEB’s operations.”

SFAB units fall under a regional deployment model. Since 5th SFAB is stationed out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the unit is duty-bound to the Indo-Pacific, according to the U.S. Army news service. For the first time, these soldiers are teaming up with 3D MEB and the ARDB to help provide critical command and control capabilities during Yama Sakura 81.

“Yama Sakura provides an exceptional opportunity for elements of the 5th SFAB to practice our doctrinal mission to serve as a liaison between a US headquarters and partner force headquarters, providing our team the opportunity to work with a critical ally -the JGSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Liam Walsh, U.S. Army, Team Leader, Maneuver Advisor Team 5310, Force Package 22-1, 5th SFAB.

5th SFAB soldiers are composed of vetted volunteers, where every selected member holds the rank of sergeant or above. The soldiers specialize in various conventional areas like logistics, communications, maneuver, medical, engineering, and field artillery. They are assigned to maneuver and combat support battalions where they advise and work with other forces, specifically forces of foreign partners and allies.

“As a U.S. Army unit, we’ve had the ability to work Joint Force Integration with the 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade,” said Walsh. “Not only are we learning from the ARDB, but my team is getting exceptional professional development by working with the Marines and being involved in planning amphibious operations—something that we in the US Army have not done in a long time. Additionally, we’ve been able to share lessons and best practices with observers from the Australian Defence Forces’ Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, which provides even more exposure to other views and ways of doing things.”

Yama Sakura 81 is an annual command post exercise that focuses on improving the interoperability between JGSDF and U.S. Forces. Beginning in 1982, Yama Sakura has provided the opportunity for both forces to continually work together ensuring that they can rapidly react to counter aggression against Japan and other allies and partners. Training like this is essential to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

This year is the inaugural year of 5th SFAB integrating with 3D MEB and the ARDB to play a vital part in the larger U.S. and JGSDF’s army exercise events. In addition to the 5th SFAB, Marines from other III Marine Expeditionary Force major subordinate commands also reinforce the 3D MEB with non-organic structure and equipment, enabling 3D MEB to a provide rapidly-employable C2 node to conduct expeditionary advanced base and stand-in force operations as may be required against a near-peer adversary. 3D MEB remains a resilient and ready force and is III MEF’s Fire Brigade crisis contingency task force in the region.

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