Japan’s Involvement in U.S. Military Drill ‘Unprecedented’

Japan will participate at an “unprecedented” level in a large-scale U.S.-led military exercise in California later this month, as it seeks to further strengthen coordination with its main ally and its ability to mount an amphibious assault aimed at capturing isolated island territory.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will take part for the first time in the periodic multi-nation exercise to be held in California from mid-June. In the exercise, troops will engage in amphibious assault training with U.S. marines intended to enhance their island-capturing and other capabilities.

Experts say the joint-exercise represents a departure in scale from previous drills involving only Japanese ground troops working with U.S. marines.

Japan has sent three warships, 730 Maritime Self-Defense Force troops, 250 ground troops and seven combat helicopters to take part in the amphibious war drill with the U.S. Marines off Camp Pendleton, California. The Dawn Blitz 2013 exercise will also involve five personnel from the Air Self-Defense Force.

A public affairs official at the SDF’s Joint Staff Office said this will be the first time ground troops will operate from Japanese warships in a drill so far from Japan. The SDF will be participating from June 10 to June 26, he said.

Col. Grant Newsham, U.S. Marine liaison officer with the GSDF, described the joint training as “historic.”

In a smaller exercise last September, a 40-person GSDF platoon sailed to Guam to receive training on amphibious military tactics from U.S. Marines.

“Now, eight months later we have three MSDF vessels, two of them amphibious ships, with 250 GSDF troops with their equipment and helicopters aboard, sailing across the Pacific Ocean to southern California to train with each other and with the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy in a much more complex amphibious exercise. This is unprecedented,” Col. Newsham said. He added that troops will practice combat skills useful for defending Japanese territory.

Canada and New Zealand will also take part in the exercise.

Full article: Japan’s Involvement in U.S. Military Drill ‘Unprecedented’ (Wall Street Journal)

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