CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines and sailors from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade worked alongside their counterparts from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Army Dec. 1-11, 2015 to conduct exercise Yama Sakura 69.
YS 69 is the largest bilateral command post exercise between the U.S. and JGSDF, aimed to improve the interoperability between the two countries through a complex command post exercise conducted here in Okinawa.
The personal conversations between Navy, Marine and JGSDF personnel on important and complex amphibious operations enabled the successful link-up and support of our forces, said Brig. Gen. John M. Jansen, Commanding General, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. This was Jansen’s first exercise with 3d MEB, as he assumed command Dec. 7, 2015 from Brig. Gen. Paul J. Kennedy.
“We’ve seen professional and well planned coordination between U.S. and JGSDF staff to conduct the command and control of the movement of forces through our battlespaces,” said Jansen. “We are able to examine and refine how we approach situations and work together for future exercises.”
Led by U.S. Army’s I Corps and Middle Army, JGSDF in Camp Itami, 3d MEB participated with roughly 350 U.S. Marines, sailors and Japanese soldiers aboard Camp Courtney.
“Yama Sakura was key to building the bilateral relationships and capabilities,” said Col. Charles A. Western, Chief of Staff, 3d MEB. “It’s important to recognize how much the JGSDF invested into this exercise to continue our relationship.”
In bilateral command post exercises such as YS 69, service members practice command and staff coordination and military decision making by reacting to a computer-based scenario. Working with different systems and doctrine creates coordination challenges. 3d MEB and JGSDF personnel were able to overcome these challenges through the building of close personal relations. Though the units controlled by 3rd MEB were simulated, the concepts rehearsed provide valuable learning opportunities for both the U.S. and Japanese.
Yama Sakura began in 1982, rotating annually to one of the five Japan Ground Self-Defense Force armies.