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1st Marine Division


1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
Japanese forces practice amphibious raids along the coast of southern California

By Cpl. Angel Serna | 1st Marine Division | February 6, 2015

Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted amphibious raids and military operations on urban terrain during Exercise Iron Fist 15 aboard Camp Pendleton on Feb. 3, 2015.

Exercise Iron Fist 15 is an annual bilateral training exercise between U.S. and Japanese military forces that builds their combined ability to conduct amphibious and land-based contingency operations. IF15, currently in its tenth iteration, is scheduled from Jan. 26 to Feb. 27, 2015, in southern California.

The JGSDF intends to stand up an amphibious brigade within the next few years. The brigade will be part of the Western Army Infantry Regiment, a battalion-sized marine infantry unit in Japan. For the past decade, the regiment has served as Japan’s test bed for amphibious warfare, and has participated in joint exercises with United States forces.

The Marine Corps is the lead for amphibious operations in the U.S. military. With the ability to maneuver combat-ready forces from the sea to the shore and inland in order to achieve a positional advantage over the enemy or to simply provide humanitarian support, they can help develop and fine tune the JGSDF’s understanding of amphibious operations.

“What we’re doing today is a company-sized amphibious raid,” said Capt. Trevor Miller, platoon commander with 1st Recon.

The amphibious raid started with the Japanese forces going to a simulated drop off point 2 km off the coast and moved as a boat company to about 1.5 km in the combat rubber raiding crafts, said Miller. From there, the JGSDF dropped their scout swimmers, who swam to and conducted reconnaissance on the red beach landing site and signaled for the rest of the boats to come in and assemble their forces on the shore. The JGSDF split into squads and moved through the combat town to seize their objective.

“Our training objective is to ensure the [JGSDF] gets to work through a full amphibious raid mission,” said GySgt. Daniel Young, a platoon sergeant with 1st Recon. “We want them to go through the sequence of events multiple times so that they can learn to be more effective than they already are.”

Along with the training objective, it’s equally important for U.S. to enhance Japanese operational effectiveness, improve interoperability with the JGSDDF and build better U.S. and Japanese relations.

“We’re enjoying this experience,” said Miller. “The Japanese forces benefit from our expertise and lessons learned from training and performing actual operations, plus we get to learn how they apply what we know using operating procedures that we haven’t thought of before.”

Overall, the Marines and JGSDF learn new ways to operate from each other, said Miller. They effectively make each other stronger operational forces to be reckoned with.

The Marines of 1st Recon will continue to train alongside the Japanese forces to help sharpen their operational capability and strengthen the bond between the two nations.