CAMP PENDLETON -- Marines and sailors with the 1st Marine Regiment are joining soldiers from the Japanese Defense Force in amphibious reconnaissance and landing operations, live-fire, mortar, artillery and close air support training across bases in Southern California.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, commanding officers from the Marine Corps and Japanese Defense Force opened Exercise Iron Fist in a ceremony at the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's headquarters at Camp Del Mar.
The training, which will continue through Feb. 15, builds on longstanding military ties between the two countries. Participation by the Japanese forces is the largest since the exercise began 13 years ago.
Col. Kevin Clark, commanding officer of the 1st Marine Regiment, welcomed Japanese commanders during the ceremony, including Colonel Takayuki Makise, commander of 1st Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.
"Exercise Iron Fist is extremely valuable to the Japanese and U.S. military," Clark said. "Our units frequently train together both here and in Japan, but this year is special because it involves the 1st Marine Regiment and includes more robust Japanese capabilities."
It is the first time in Exercise Iron Fist that the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force will use its own Amphibious Assault Vehicles.
Iron Fist is designed to improve the ability of the U.S. Marine Corps and Japanese force to plan, communicate and conduct combined amphibious operations.
"It has been exciting to watch the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade develop over the past several years from a small experimental unit to a modern amphibious force, capably led and ready to meet any requirement," Clark said.
The training is planned at Camp Pendleton, San Clemente Island and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
"Our close U.S.-Japan partnership contributes to regional stability, and by working together, we are better able to respond to crises," Clark said. "For more than 55 years, the United States and Japan have been treaty allies, which serves as a cornerstone for peace and security in the Western Pacific."
This article is written by Erika I. Ritchie from Orange County Register and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.