News: Exercise Iron Fist kicks off joining U.S and Japanese forces
Story by Sgt. James Green
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit welcomed the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force to Camp Pendleton today for the fifth iteration of Exercise Iron Fist.
Exercise Iron Fist is a three-week bi-lateral training event between the Marine Corps and JGSDF designed to increase the interoperability between the two services while aiding the Japanese in their continued development of amphibious capabilities.
Senior officers participating in the exercise expressed their appreciation and excitement for the upcoming training.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to train with and learn from our friends in the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force," said Col. David W. Coffman, commanding officer for the 13th MEU.
Coffman, a native of Eustis, Fla., said he was delighted to have the opportunity to host the JGDSF and repay them for the tremendous hospitality they have long-offered American forces in their country.
The JGSDF and Marine Forces Pacific share a common virtue of increasing bilateral training and exercises. Exercise Iron Fist will allow both services to focus on amphibious operations and Marine Corps-JGSDF interoperability.
"We are able to operate functionally back at home," said Lt. Col. Hironobu Tanaka, officer in charge of the JGSDF attending the exercise. "This is a great chance for us to operate jointly with another organization and practice interoperability skills."
Tanaka said he is very excited to train in southern California and looks forward to learning from the Marines and sailors.
"This is a big facility, we don't have the infrastructure to do this in Japan," said Tanaka.
Maj. Anthonol Neely, assistant operations officer with the 13th MEU, said this exercise will allow the Japanese to work processes and tools in a different environment to help in their nation's self defense.
The JGSDF prepared for ship life, honed their marksmanship skills and practiced amphibious landings before coming to participate in Iron Fist.
Along with the skills already possessed by the JGSDF, Marines working beside them will offer new tools for their toolbox. The JGSDF will train in amphibious staff planning, execution of amphibious operations, limited offensive and extensive defensive tactics, techniques and procedures.
"The skills they will gain will aid them in preparing for what they hope will never happen," said Neely who hails from Nashville, Tenn.
While this is Neely's first time participating in Iron Fist, he said he feels it will be rewarding.
"Anytime we get a chance to work with coalition forces is beneficial because we get an opportunity to facilitate working with them in the future," said Neely. "It makes us more well-rounded. It presents an opportunity to learn about different cultures and it will be a learning experience for all involved."