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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2021

21st SOS Supports U.S. Marines and JGSDF in Massive Resolute Dragon Exercise

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen and CV-22B Ospreys from the 21st Special Operations Squadron (SOS) supported air-to-ground operations with U.S. Marine contingents and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) during Resolute Dragon 2021, the largest bilateral training exercise of the year, in Japan, from Dec. 1 to 16.

Resolute Dragon is designed to strengthen the defensive capabilities of the U.S.-Japan alliance by refining procedures for bilateral command, control, and coordination in a geographically distributed environment.

“Combat flexibility is critical in modern contested environments, so working with U.S. Marines and JGSDF soldiers in this exercise was a boon in sharing our specialized capabilities for rapid air-to-ground movements,” said Maj. Andrew Whitmey, 21st SOS assistant operations officer and CV-22B pilot. “Everyone worked through the language and military culture differences quickly and effectively, allowing us to train in rapid infiltration and exfiltration of personnel, gear and supplies.”

The CV-22B allows allied forces to accomplish the functions of a helicopter, but now at much longer ranges. It uniquely has the vertical lift of a helicopter and the speed and range of a turboprop aircraft, which provides superior advantages in the Indo-Pacific region that’s dotted with islands and mountainous terrain adverse to traditional airframes.

“We strive to minimize any disturbance to our civilian neighbors when planning missions,” Whitmey said. “However, it’s necessary to regularly train our Airmen with the CV-22B to remain ready to defend the safety and security of our allied Japanese partners. We’re proud to have been able to work side by side with JGSDF during Resolute Dragon, as it was the first time the 21st SOS supported Japanese soldiers, and we look forward to future opportunities to train together.”

Bilateral training exercises like Resolute Dragon, conducted between the Japan Self-Defense Force, and combined U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Army, and Air Force, demonstrated both countries’ dedication to defending peace and security in the Indo-Pacific. Resolute Dragon is the latest example of this ongoing commitment and resulting increases in bilateral capabilities, integration, lethality, and readiness.

“Resolute Dragon 21 is an example of the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance, which has served as the foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific for more than 60 years,” said Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, Commanding General, 3d Marine Division. “We will operate across all domains with our Japanese allies and joint partners to maximize our ability to deter and defeat any potential threat. We are committed to remaining postured and ready to fight and win if called upon.”

More than 2,600 Marines from across the Indo-Pacific theater and approximately 1,400 of their counterparts from the 9th Division, North Eastern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force were involved alongside U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force supporting units.

The alliance between the U.S. and Japan makes both stronger. Allied partners practice how they fight by conducting realistic training to build readiness in collective defense support of Japan. Resolute Dragon is a powerful example of the collaborative efforts between the JSDF and U.S. to increase mutual understanding of military tactics, techniques, and procedures … allowing bilateral forces to fight as a cohesive unit when called upon.

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