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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Marine, Japanese leaders visit USS Peleliu during Exercise Iron Fist 2012

By Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers | | February 11, 2012

Several distinguished visitors boarded the USS Peleliu to observe the culminating event of Exercise Iron Fist 2012 where servicemembers from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Japanese Ground Self Defense Force conducted a weeklong at-sea period.

Exercise Iron Fist 2012 is a bilateral training exercise between the 15th MEU and the JGSDF that gives the 15th MEU a chance to demonstrate its amphibious capabilities to the Japanese. The exercise provides a unique opportunity for service members to train with an important Pacific ally.

Maj. Gen. Katsuki Takata, deputy chief of staff for operations, Western Army, and Rear Admiral Fumiyuki Kitagawa, commander, Escort Flotilla 3, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, were among the Japanese visitors that arrived on Feb. 9.  Upon arrival, the leadership toured USS Peleliu spaces, as well as the flight deck, hanger bay and bridge.

“I am very pleased to be welcomed aboard this ship,” said Takata. “I hope this operation will continue to be successful.”

Maj.  Gen. Melvin Spiese, deputy commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and Rear Adm. Patrick E. McGrath, deputy commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, boarded the Peleliu on Feb. 11 to meet with Takata and other Japanese leaders. Together, they flew to San Clemente Island and observed the joint assault, which included live-fire exercises and combat logistic patrols.

The leaders meeting to discuss and observe the exercise, showed the importance of the bilateral training and the relationship between the two allies.

Takata said he is already looking forward to conducting the exercise next year and wishes that both nations continue to conduct the exercise for many years ahead.

The at-sea period of Exercise Iron Fist 2012 was the culminating event of the joint exercise. The 15th MEU is continuing to train for their deployment with Phibron 3 scheduled this summer.