MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines from 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit trained alongside the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force during a Landing Craft Air Cushion exercise at Red Beach Jan. 24.
The event was part of Exercise Iron Fist 2012, a bilateral amphibious training event between U.S. Marines and the JGSDF. The exercise provides a unique opportunity for U.S. service members to train with an important Pacific ally on U.S. soil.
The Marines and Japanese soldiers were practicing loading and offloading tactical vehicles on the two LCACs. Once both LCACs came ashore, the service members from both nations guided their vehicles onto the landing craft’s cargo bay. The Marines loaded two 7-ton trucks and one Humvee. The JGSDF loaded five tactical 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
The LCAC is an assault hovercraft and is capable of carrying 75 tons of cargo, one M1A1 Tank or 11 Humvees. Powered by four gas-turbine engines, the landing craft can move at more than 40 knots and has a range of 200 miles, said Petty Officer 2nd Class David Farley, LCAC navigator, Assault Craft Unit 5.
The LCAC’s main purpose is to support logistical requirements of an expeditionary unit, to include transporting weapon systems, equipment, cargo and personnel from assault elements. It has been in use since 1985, but the Marine Corps has yet to employ it for an amphibious assault. Its modern day use is to support humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
“It’s a very unique machine,” said Farley. “It can transport a lot of gear at a fast pace. It’s used for humanitarian efforts around the world.”
The Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 15 were exercising their ability to deploy motor transportation during an amphibious operation. The training gave them the opportunity to become familiar with the loading and offloading process of an LCAC.
“The more training we do, the easier it will be in a real operation,” said Sgt. Larry D. Wright, motor transportation operator, CLB-15. “This [training] is what we came to do.”
Wright said this was his first time working with the Japanese and is looking forward to more exercises alongside the JGSDF.
“I’m excited to train with the Marines,” said Japanese Sgt. 1st Class Tetsumasa Saito, interpreter, Western Army Infantry Regiment. “Marines are sophisticated and very experienced. I feel very pleasant to join them in this training.”
There are several training events scheduled during the remainder of Exercise Iron Fist 2012. The 15th MEU is currently training for a routine deployment this fall.