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GSDF and U.S. Marine Corps conduct large-scale joint exercise

The Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) and the U.S. Marine Corps conducted Japan-U.S. joint exercise “Forest Light 17-1” in Tokyo and adjacent prefectures from March 6 to 17. Six MV-22 Ospreys from the U.S. military Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture participated in the exercise, making it the first full-scale heliborne drill. This large-scale joint exercise aimed to enhance the U.S. Marines’ readiness and combat capability as well as bilateral interoperability, which could be employed in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, it has been learned.

 

The exercise was conducted at the GSDF Somagahara exercise range in Gunma Prefecture and the Sekiyama exercise range in Niigata Prefecture. According to the GSDF’s announcement, about 450 U.S. Marines participated. According to a U.S. Marine Corps report, however, about 600 Marines participated, which is 3.5 times more than the number that participated in the previous exercise in February 2014.

 

During the exercise, Yokota Air Base in Fussa City, Tokyo, was also used as the maintenance and refueling base for the MV-22 Ospreys, which frequently flew between the exercise ranges and Yokota.

 

“Forest Light,” among other exercises, has become a drill for strengthening the U.S. Marine Corps’ operational capability in Asia and cooperation with other countries.

 

“To promote joint operations by bilateral forces so as to enhance joint readiness in the event of crises and natural disasters within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region” was stated as the purpose of the exercise in a press release issued by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa Prefecture. (Abridged)

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