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  • 27
  • Feb
  • 2016
U.S. Marines, JGSDF integrate fire power during Exercise Iron Fist 2016

By Lance Cpl. Devan Gowans, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. -- U.S. Marines and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers with the Western Army Infantry Regiment conducted a supporting arms coordination center exercise (SACCEX), at San Clemente Island, Feb. 22-23, as part of Exercise Iron Fist 2016.

Iron Fist is an annual, bilateral amphibious training exercise designed to improve the USMC and JGSDF’s ability to plan, communicate and conduct combined amphibious operations at the platoon, company and battalion levels.

Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and the JGSDF soldiers provided indirect fire support in coordination with 81mm mortar platoons and an artillery battery with 1st Marine Division. 

In addition, they were supported by naval gunfire from the USS Spruance, targeting the northern shores and beachheads of San Clemente Island through a series of radio-coordinated fire missions. 

During the SACCEX, U.S. and Japan forces had hands-on experience in tactics proven to be effective in securing enemy-occupied shorelines during large-scale amphibious assaults.

“In the event of a ship-to-shore assault, a supporting arms coordination center would be in charge of directing mortars, artillery, naval gunfire and close air support onto an objective area to suppress targets located on a beachhead,” said Sgt. Robert Garcia, a fire support chief with 1st ANGLICO, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group.

SACCEX is used as a cooperative learning tool for the US-Japan partnership through the operation of a supporting arms coordination center, which has developed the U.S. Marine Corps and JGSDF’s ability to conduct amphibious fire control missions as an allied force.

“What I learned from ANGLICO is how to more smoothly employ our firepower assets,” said 2nd Lt. Takehido Umeyama, a fire support coordinator with Western Army Infantry Regiment, JGSDF. “During the SACCEX, I was able to learn better how the Marines operate. We were able to improve the interoperability between both our [Japanese] forces and the Marines.”

Prior to the SACCEX, U.S. and Japan forces prepared for the exercise on the USS Somerset (LPD 25), which acted as a staging point for the disembarking Landing Craft Air Cushions carrying personnel and equipment needed to execute fire missions aboard San Clemente Island.

Upon completion of the SACCEX, U.S. and Japan forces departed from San Clemente Island, assembling aboard the Somerset in preparation for an amphibious landing.

The amphibious landing exercise, which is the culminating training event of Exercise Iron Fist, consists of a scenario-based amphibious landing force launched from the Somerset in coordination with an inland airborne assault at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 26, 2016.

Exercise Iron Fist 2016 provides U.S. Marines and JGSDF soldiers with realistic and relevant training that enhances the planning, execution and effectiveness of combined amphibious operations.
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