MARCH 10, 2017, CAMP SOUMAGAHARA, Japan – U.S. Marines and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted aerial integration training on an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and JGSDF CH-47 Chinook helicopters during exercise Forest Light 17-1 in the Camp Soumagahara, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, Mar. 10, 2017.
During the exercise, both nations’ forces familiarized themselves with each other’s aviation platforms, training techniques and execution of various mission sets. As the aircraft hovered above the ground, both nations forces fast roped safely to the ground from each other’s platforms. Additionally, the bilateral forces conducted simulated casualty evacuation drills via MV-22B Osprey. Both drills increased combined readiness to events such as natural disaster or crises where an agile and adaptable force is required.
“The value of this training is that it reinforces that we truly are stronger together,” said Lt. Col. Ryan M. Hoyle, the commanding officer for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
Approximately 600 U.S. Marines and sailors assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force deployed via six MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Yokota Air Base, Japan, to execute Forest Light 17-1. The assimilation of Marine infantry units and aircraft from Okinawa with JGSDF units on mainland Japan allows for continuous integration and cooperation of bilateral forces, which reduces the impact of training on Okinawa. The U.S. forces are partnered with JGSDF personnel from 30th Infantry Regiment, 12th Brigade, Eastern Army, to defend the peace and security provided by the longstanding U.S.-Japanese Alliance.
Hoyle added that the JGSDF and U.S. forces are working to identify their differences, find common ground and close all gaps to ensure the combined forces are formidable and ready.
“I’m excited to see the training and observe the stronger team at the end,” said Hoyle.
By Cpl. Kelsey Dornfeld, III Marine Expeditionary Force