News: Annual exercise validates station ability to defend
IWAKUNI, Japan - U.S. servicemembers and Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces came together and took up arms to defend Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni by land, sea and air against an uncommon enemy. The enemy consisted of Marines and sailors stationed here operating under codename, “Red Cell.”
Role-players invaded, planted bombs and took hostages during a three-day exercise, which concluded March 8, called Active Shield.
“Exercise, Exercise, Exercise,” sounded on the afternoon of March 5 to begin the annual training.
Auxiliary Security Force Marines left their day jobs and reported to the armory to draw individual weapons.
Meanwhile, military police, along with other key units such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Harbor Operations, amplified their vigilance and stood ready to respond.
Scenarios included a hostage situation, incidents on the water, suspicious package, mass casualty and chemical biological radiological nuclear evacuation.
“Active Shield tests a unit’s ability to execute mission-essential tasks,” said 1st Lt. Katherine C. Kleess, White Cell officer-in-charge. “Each scenario was specifically designed by a subject matter expert.”
To maximize training, multiple scenarios were linked together to replicate how they may occur if it were a real threat, said Kleess.
“There were events that occurred which gave information to another scenario,” said Kleess. “One example was when a boat entered restricted waters and (the Provost Marshal’s Office) apprehended a person from the vessel. This person then was interrogated and gave information about a suspicious package.”
Even though many of the scenarios tested station units, an integral part of the success of Active Shield was the JGSDF involvement.
Alongside U.S. servicemembers were approximately 200 Japanese soldiers from the 46th Regiment, 13th Brigade, stationed at
Camp Kaitaichi, Hiroshima, who supported Active Shield, to include a tactical aircraft filled with Japanese Rangers.
“Training events like Active Shield are extremely important when there is a chance Marines will respond to a call with Japanese forces,” said 2nd Lt. Shannon L. Gross, PMO services officer. “You cannot always guarantee there will be someone who speaks English or an interpreter present, so you must have other ways to communicate.”
In preparation for Active Shield, MPs crosstrained with JGSDF to ensure when the time came to perform, they would be on the same page. Hand signals, commands and other forms of communication became universal and allowed two finely-tuned machines to operate as one.
“The hostage scenario was one of the exercise’s highlights for PMO,” said Gross. “It tested not only our ability to respond on time, but also in appropriate fashion, which is essential for first responders.”
They demonstrated these traits during the hostage scenario when Special Response Team Marines and Japanese Rangers tactically
stormed into a dim, rundown building to rescue and secure the threat.
Although Active Shield 2012 was just an exercise, one thing was clear: MCAS Iwakuni and the JGSDF are ready to defend themselves
against any threat, foreign or domestic.
Date Posted:07.01.2012 14:13
Location:IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JP
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