The US Army and Japan Ground Self Defence Force (JGSDF) soldiers have completed a bilateral training exercise, code-named Orient Shield 2012, at Aibano Training Area in Shiga Prefecture, Japan.

Approximately 1,000 personnel from the US Army’s 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and JGSDF’s 33rd Infantry Regiment, 10th Division, Middle Army, participated in the 13th exercise of its kind.

The exercise started on 30 October and witnessed the first-time deployment of 15 General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada-built Stryker armoured fighting vehicles to Japan since its entry into operational service with the US army.

Personnel from both armies conducted air assault training and also exchanged information during the exercise to facilitate learning of each other’s tactics, techniques and capabilities, for vehicles, weapons and other equipment.

The exercise ended with a bilateral field training exercise, which involved all tasks and topics learned during the functional phase of training.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, 33rd Regiment commander colonel Koji Furuya said the exercise has strengthened the US-Japan alliance by providing soldiers with an opportunity to communicate and overcome differences between each other.

"Through this bilateral exercise, mutual understanding of tactics and communication were deepened, which allowed us to enrich our ability and to establish the foundation for smooth bilateral operation," Furuya said.

1-14th Infantry commander colonel Jonathan Larsen added that the bilateral exchange over the past two weeks proved to be beneficial for the security of both countries.

"It is by forming partnerships at all levels, from the individual soldier to the highest units in our forces, that we will ensure continued security," Larson added.

Co-hosted by the US Army Japan and JGSDF, Exercise Orient Shield initially started in 2000 and is an annual premier tactical level bilateral exercise designed to improve interoperability between the two armies at the lowest echelon to help enhance their combat readiness.

Image: US and JGSDF soldiers conduct air assault training during Orient Shield 2012. Photo: courtesy of SPC. Jason Dorsey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.