Japan’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade joins the 3D MEB for Yama Sakura 81

9 Dec 2021 | 2nd Lt. Jed Arend 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

OKINAWA, Japan – The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade is taking part in Exercise Yama Sakura 81 alongside 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at Camp Ainoura, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

During Yama Sakura 81, an annual command post exercise, the ARDB is working with 3D MEB to command and control in a contested area during a bilateral defense of Japan, in keeping with the Japan & U.S Defense alliance. The command and control exercise encompasses large geographic distances using the sea to maneuver while establishing expeditionary advance bases in order to secure key terrain.

Even though this exercise is simulated, the ARDB and 3D MEB train as they fight to enhance skills that are fundamental to warfighting. Yama Sakura is an integral part of strengthening the alliance.

"This command post exercise makes us more capable and more lethal. Although our daily objective is to prevent conflict, our adversaries should not take that to mean we will not be prepared for conflict. We will be ready and resilient together.” said Brig. Gen. Kyle Ellison, 3rd MEB Commanding General.

3D MEB takes every opportunity to train with the ARDB due to the similarities of the unit’s amphibious and expeditionary capabilities, as interoperability bolsters security and stability throughout the region.

“This is the first time we have hosted the Yama Sakura exercise here at Camp Ainoura, and as the officer in charge, I am happy that our U.S. members are here,” said Maj. Yoichiro Mano, the S-3 air officer of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade. “While each warfighting function conducts coordination in preparation for the exercise start, my section strives to provide an environment where everyone can focus on bilateral operations.”

Beginning in 1982, Yama Sakura has contributed to the interoperability between U.S. forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces over the last 40 years, and this type of training is essential to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

At the conclusion of the exercise, the team will hold a bilateral after action review in order to share lessons learned and discuss the way forward to implement changes.

“I want to hear feedback after the exercise about facilities and operations, so that we can continue to improve for future exercises together,” continued Mano.

This 3D MEB and ARDB exercise builds on previous iterations to inform new opportunities, improve shared understanding and increase mutually supporting efforts.

This year, 3D MEB and the ARDB play a part in the larger U.S. Army First Corps and JGSDF’s Middle Army YS81 events. Also working alongside the ARDB, Marines from other III Marine Expeditionary Force major subordinate commands reinforce the 3D MEB with non-organic structure and equipment, enabling 3D MEB to a provide rapidly-employable C2 node to conduct expeditionary advanced base and sea denial operations as may be required against a near-peer adversary.

The ARDB deployed to work with the 3D MEB on Camp Courtney, Okinawa in 2019 and 2020 for previous YS exercises, and looks forward to continuing to strengthen the relationship during YS81.

3D MEB remains a resilient and ready force and is III MEF’s Fire Brigade crisis contingency task force.


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