Japan troops practice amphibious assaults with US Marines

NY Times:
In the early morning along a barren stretch of beach here last week, Japanese soldiers and American Marines practiced how to invade and retake an island captured by hostile forces.

Memo to Beijing: Be forewarned.

One Marine sergeant yelled for his men, guns drawn, to push into the right building as they climbed through the window of an empty house meant to simulate a seaside dwelling. The Marines had poured out of four amphibious assault vehicles as another group of smaller inflatable boats carrying soldiers of Japan’s Western Army Infantry Regiment landed in an accompanying beachhead assault.

There were shouts in Japanese. There were shouts in Marine English. There was air support, from Huey and Cobra helicopters hovering above. Then larger Navy hovercrafts roared in, spitting up a spray of seawater before burping out Humvees and more Japanese troops, their faces blackened with camouflage paint.

American military officials, viewing the cooperative action of the former World War II enemies from a nearby hillside, insisted that the annual exercise, called Iron Fist, had nothing, nothing to do with last fall’s game of chicken between Tokyo and Beijing over islands that are largely piles of rocks in the East China Sea. But Lt. Col. John O’Neal, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said that this year, the Japanese team came with “a new sense of purpose.”

In the United States military, commanders are increasingly allied in alarm with Japan over China’s flexing of military muscle. Capt. James Fanell, director of intelligence and information operations with the United States Pacific Fleet, recently said in San Diego that China was training its forces to be capable of carrying out a “short, sharp” war with Japan in the East China Sea.

The islands at the center of the dispute, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese, are a seven-hour boat ride from Japan, even farther from China, and thought to be surrounded by man-eating sharks. Japan has long administered the islands, but they are claimed by China and Taiwan.
There is much more.

I think the exercise has a lot to do with Chinese aggression in the Pacific region.  Japan needs to rebuild its military to deal with the threat from China and North Korea.  Besides the military aspects of the exercise, it also gives the Marines and the Japanese troops a chance to deal with the significant language barrier.  With fewer Marines stationed on Japanese soil these days that language barrier is probably larger now than at any time in recent decades.


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