MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit welcomed the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force here, at the opening ceremony of Exercise Iron Fist 2012, Jan. 23.
Exercise Iron Fist 2012 is a bi-lateral amphibious training event between the American and Japanese forces. The exercise is a tribute to the relationship with JGSDF and will provide a unique opportunity for Marines to train with an important Pacific ally on U.S. soil. This is the seventh iteration of the exercise in Southern California.
The ceremony officially kicked off the exercise between the two forces. Commanding officers from both forces expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation for the training.
The unit commanders called their units to attention as the 1st Marine Division band played the national anthems of both countries.
“Iron Fist represents a continuing partnership between the militaries of the United States and Japan,” said Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, deputy commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton. “Of the twenty security cooperation exercises and events conducted by the First Marine Expeditionary Force, Iron Fist is the largest and most significant. This reflects the importance the United States places on its military relationship with Japan.”
Building on the Marine Corps’ existing friendship with the JGSDF, the exercise provides invaluable training for the 15th MEU. Both forces have common training interests and can share their experience and knowledge as they conduct the coming exercises.
“Iron Fist is an opportunity to build on our relationship, share tactics and develop proficiency with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, a very important partner and friend in the Pacific,” said Spiese.
The JGSDF unit participating in the training is the Western Army Infantry Regiment. The 15th MEU will command elements including 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion and Combat Logistics Battalion 15, both based out of Camp Pendleton.
“I plan to stay connected to the exercise during the month-long execution and look forward to observing this joint effort alongside Colonel Kurosawa again this year,” said Spiese.
In the coming weeks, both forces will partake in exercises including a three-day evolution when troops will rehearse making safe exits from a sinking helicopter, conduct various boat training that enables the 15th MEU to demonstrate its amphibious capability as well as take part in other staff planning and integration exercises.
“The First Marine Expeditionary Force has participated in Iron Fist for seven consecutive years; each year the exercise has expanded, and this year continues that trend,” said Spiese. “Iron Fist 12 promises to be bigger and better than Iron Fist 11.”