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U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade and service members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force salute the national colors of both nations at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, during the opening ceremony for Yama Sakura 71, Dec. 7, 2016,. The purpose of YS 71 is to enhance both nations’ combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening bilateral relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support security interests of allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Photo by Cpl. Carl King

US, Japan service members simulate defense of Japan during Yama Sakura 71

9 Dec 2016 | Staff Sgt. Jesse Stence The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

U.S. Marines and Japanese service members began a command post training exercise here today to rehearse a series of fictional contingency operations in and around Japan. 

The exercise is part of Yama Sakura 71, a bilateral exercise designed to build cohesion between the Japan Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. military. 
“We have assembled to recognize the value of bilateral training and the importance of working side-by-side as allied nations to increase our capability and enhance readiness and response when faced with crisis,” said Brig. Gen. John Jansen, the commanding general of 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Here, most participating Marines belong to 3d MEB, III Marine Expeditionary Force, but YS 71 stretches far beyond the shores of Okinawa. The overall exercise includes approximately 1,600 U.S. and 5,000 Japanese service members worldwide. The partnered forces are spread from here to Camp Kengun, near Kumamato, Japan, and Hickham Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Brig. Gen. John Jansen, the 3d MEB commanding general, commented on the partnership between the U.S. and Japan during the opening ceremony for the command post exercise here today.

“I am pleased that this iteration of Yama Sakura will allow us to focus efforts on cooperative and complimentary amphibious capabilities,” Jansen said. 
The purpose of YS 71 is to strengthen the U.S. and Japan’s bilateral relationship and interoperability. Service members from both countries will share command and control tactics in deploying ground forces and exercising bilateral contingency operations to defend Japan.

“The U.S.-Japan military relationships are crucial for Japan’s national security; therefore this command post exercise is at an important position in our environment,” said JGSDF Lt. Gen. Takashi Motomatsu, the 8th Division commanding general.

The training exercise supports the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Security and Cooperation, which was ratified in 1951 and amended in 1960.

The exercise highlights extensive bilateral coordination between the U.S. and Japan, spurred by Japan’s 2012 decision to commission the Amphibious Ready Deployment Brigade, currently commanded by JGSDF Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki. Other key agencies involved in bilateral development include the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Mine Warfare Force, commanded by JMSDF Rear Adm. Hideki Yuasa; the U.S. Navy’s Commander, Task Force 76, commanded by Navy Rear Adm. Mark Dalton; and the Navy’s 7th Fleet, commanded by Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin. Aucoin and Lt. Gen. Larry D. Nicholson, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, currently lead the bilateral amphibious development effort.

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