News: Iron Fist 2013: US – Japan partnership 'stronger than ever'
Story by Cpl. Jennifer Pirante
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, alongside members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, conducted a closing ceremony for Exercise Iron Fist 2013, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Feb. 15.
The purpose of the annual bilateral amphibious exercise is to improve interoperability, enhance military-to-military relations, hone individual and small-unit skills necessary for effective crisis response, and to effectively conduct contingency operations across the Pacific.
“Exercise Iron Fist 2013, a continuation of our bilateral military-to-military training and engagement, has proven successful in many ways,” said Col. Christopher D. Taylor, commanding officer of 13th MEU.“Our training and social engagement over the last couple of weeks has allowed us to build warrior bonds and personal friendships; we have gained a better understanding of each others’ culture and enhanced our tactical skills – in particular in our amphibious capabilities. And of course, we have had some fun.”
For three weeks, infantry Marines with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, romped through southern California’s most rugged military training facilities with troops from Japan’s Western Army Infantry Regiment aboard Camp Pendleton, in the desert terrain of the Marine Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms and aboard the Navy’s USS Boxer (LHD-4) and USS Pearl Harbor before conducting a final training event at San Clemente Island.
The exercise afforded the Marines and members of JGSDF to conduct an exchange of knowledge on weaponry, maneuver warfare tactics and get their boots wet during rapid, expeditious amphibious operations.
“As our two great Nations continue to develop our military relationship, we will be able to look back on this exercise and see its importance,” Taylor said. “The personal friendships and appreciation of each other’s culture gained here will continue to be important parts of the trust relationships we have built upon. The US – Japanese strategic partnership is stronger than ever.”
Marines and members of the JGSDF were also afforded the unique opportunity to train alongside the 13th MEU’s aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. During the exercise VMM-166 employed their CH-53E Super Stallion and MV-22 Osprey helicopters to further enhance ship-to-shore movement aboard the Navy’s USS Boxer (LHD-4) to San Clemente Island.
“We will analyze the results of this exercise to enhance our capability, identify points of improvements, and return together to gain and reflect on the education of our soldiers and Marines of tomorrow,” said Col. Matsushi Kunii, commanding officer of Western Army Infantry Regiment. “I greatly appreciate the hospitality given from the bottom of all the Marines’ and Sailors’ hearts. I’m looking forward to training with U.S. Marines and Navy again.”
Exercise Iron Fist 2013 is just one of a variety of bi-lateral exercises conducted to strengthen the bond between U.S. and Japan forces. Marines with 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade are slated to team up with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and a larger group of Japan forces in June for the second portion of Exercise Dawn Blitz 13.2.