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Orient Shield shows seamless teamwork between Japan, U.S.


Ground forces from Japan and the United States demonstrated the strength of their partnership and their ability to jointly repel an enemy invasion of the island nation during the largest bilateral field training exercise held in Japan.

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and U.S. Army concluded Exercise Orient Shield 21-2 on July 7, 2021, after refining their interoperability in cross-domain operations over two weeks. They conducted long-range precision fires, guard and protect missions, chemical response training, watercraft system movement, and aviation and integrated air defense operations at locations throughout Japan, the U.S. Army reported.

“In this exercise, we learned a lot from U.S. troops and units, especially about real-world situations, and that has been a great benefit for all of us,” said Col. Junji Shinagawa, commander of the JGSDF’s 15th Rapid Deployment Regiment, according to a report on the U.S. Army’s website.

Although the exercise was an ongoing display of a strengthening partnership, some aspects stood out to commanders. “The most memorable moment for me was during our military operations in urban terrain training where we executed company-level operations,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Pecha, commander of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

“We took two squads from the JGSDF and put them with two U.S. squads, and they executed operations together,” Pecha said. “It showed how quickly they picked up on skills they might not train on regularly.”

The two land forces conducted an equipment display in which Soldiers learned about their counterparts’ weapons systems, technology and vehicles. The U.S. Army deployed more than 1,600 Soldiers and hundreds of pieces of equipment from the U.S. to Japan for the exercise. (Pictured: A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Soldier checks the optics on a U.S. rifle with U.S. Army Spc. Gary Guijarro during an equipment display at the Aibano Training Area.)

Demonstrating the strength of the partnership is critical, Shinagawa said, in a region fraught with threats that range from a nuclear-armed North Korea to an increasingly aggressive People’s Republic of China, which has militarized artificial features in the South China Sea and has moved to limit freedoms in Hong Kong.

Pecha and Shinagawa noted the importance of building on the partnership.

“Exercises like Orient Shield continue to show those in the area that we are committed to having a strong partnership with our Japanese allies here in the Indo-Pacific theater,” Pecha said.

For Shinagawa, the bilateral training with U.S. troops prepares his regiment to defend Japan and reaffirms the nations’ status as allies.

“It is very important that we have the U.S. as an ally to secure our peace and independence,” Shinagawa said.



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