OKINAWA, Japan - Marines from 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, worked with their counterparts from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to conduct Exercise Yama Sakura 59, Jan. 11 to Feb. 3.
Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral Command Post Exercise and is designed to improve U.S./Japan interoperability through computer-generated scenarios which facilitate staff interaction.
“It’s good working with the JGSDF because it builds theater cooperation which assists with mission accomplishment,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Larry Robertson, operations chief, G-3, 3rd Marine Division.
In addition to providing an opportunity for both nations to strengthen their ability to coordinate and conduct operations, the exercise provided an opportunity to test the command and control of the unit commander and his staff prior to future exercises throughout the region.
“Yama Sakura also gives [division] units the opportunity to work together and prepare for future [exercises] such as Balikatan 2011,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Connor, platoon sergeant, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.
CAB provided two light armored vehicles to support the jump command post.
A jump CP is another configuration of the Command Operations Center that allows the commander to circulate the battlefield while maintaining up-to-date information as he tours his area of operations.
“It’s important for the general to have accurrate information so he can make well-informed decisions,” said Robertson.
This exercise is basically a warm up for Balikatan-11 and other real-world operations, and a way to validate command and control structure setup and daily standard operating procedures, said Master Sgt. Cortez Pree, training chief, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.
“Overall, I think [the exercise] gives the division a great way to come together to actually put each section together and be able to operate and function as a [Marine Expeditionary Brigade]," said Pree.
Working as a MEB builds the command and control as well as information and communications, said Robertson.
“The exercise went extremely well. We had new personnel working in the COC and it gave them valuable experience working at the MEB level,” said Pree. “We had a chance to incorporate new procedures in the COC and validate old ones.”