OKINAWA, Japan --
Approximately 3,300 U.S. service members with various units across III Marine Expeditionary Force and the joint force, and approximately 5,000 service members of the Japan Self-Defense Force concluded the second phase of the largest integrated training event ever accomplished between III MEF and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Western Army on October 31, 2023.
The first phase of RD 23, held in July, focused on enhancing relationships between the command posts of III MEF and the Western Army and deliberate planning for future bilateral training. In the second phase, that planning and the lessons learned were put into action during a field training exercise across 19 installations and facilities from Hokkaido and throughout Kyushu and the Southwest Islands.
Resolute Dragon 23 | 3d Marine Division, JGSDF Arrive at Vice-Camp Takayubaru
Photo by Cpl. Chloe Johnson
U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, board a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force CH-47JA Chinook with 3rd Squadron, Western Army Helicopter Unit, Western Army Aviation Group, during the field training exercise portion of Resolute Dragon 23 at JGSDF Camp Kengun Vice-Camp Takayubaru, Kumamoto, Japan, Oct. 17, 2023. RD 23 is an annual bilateral exercise in Japan that strengthens the command, control, and multi-domain maneuver capabilities of Marines in III Marine Expeditionary Force and allied Japan Self-Defense Force personnel. 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, is currently forward deployed in the Indo-Pacific under 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chloe Johnson)
“During Resolute Dragon, our forces coordinated and conducted bilateral operations distributed throughout Japan. III MEF and the JGSDF Western Army actively rehearsed bilateral command and control and combined arms live-fire training, building linkages between Marine Corps Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations and the JGSDF’s Cross-Domain Operations concepts.” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Andrew Gourgoumis, III MEF current operations officer. “This is the first time that we conducted training and established a bilateral coordination center at Camp Ishigaki, which opened this past spring.”
This iteration of Resolute Dragon achieved many other historic firsts, to include the first deployment of a U.S. Marine Corps TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar, flown on a Japan Air Self-Defense Force Kawasaki C-2 cargo airplane, from JASDF Naha Air Base to JGSDF Camp Ishigaki. Camp Ishigaki also hosted the first bilateral casualty evacuation drill utilizing JGSDF CH-47 Chinooks and JGSDF V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Other historic events of RD 23 included a bilateral airfield damage repair, and a bilateral rocket live-fire with U.S. Marine Corps M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems alongside JGSDF allies at JGSDF Yausubetsu Maneuver Area, Hokkaido, Japan, and a bilateral press engagement at JGSDF Camp Ishigaki.
The Marines and Western Army also conducted a small-arms bilateral live-fire at JGSDF Hijyudai Maneuver Area, Oita, Japan. This was the first integration of Task Force 75, Navy Expeditionary Forces Pacific, into III MEF and Western Army bilateral operations, and included a forward arming and refueling point at Jyumonji Maneuver Area and JGSDF Camp Ishigaki. This was another opportunity for bilateral operations with U.S. Army's 1st Multi-Domain Task Force integration and included discussions concerning future operations.
Resolute Dragon 23 FTX Hijyudai Bilateral Coordination Center Operations
Photo by Cpl. Scott Aubuchon
U.S. Marines with 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force service members with 8th Division, Western Army, operate in a bilateral coordination center during the field training exercise portion of Resolute Dragon 23 at Hijyudai Maneuver Area, Oita, Japan, Oct. 18, 2023. RD 23 is an annual bilateral exercise in Japan that strengthens the command, control, and multi-domain maneuver capabilities of Marines in III Marine Expeditionary Force and allied Japan Self-Defense Force personnel. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Scott Aubuchon)
"The 1st MDTF, alongside our joint partners and allies, are synchronizing effects across all domains, presenting multiple dilemmas to our adversaries, and demonstrating a combat credible force that advances our shared goals of preventing conflict and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Brig. Gen. Bernard Harrington, the commander of the 1st MDTF. “Resolute Dragon is also an important opportunity for us advance our combined and joint interoperability at the human, technical, and procedural levels, critical to increasing our effectiveness as a combined and joint force.”
Building on a series of exercises that are held annually, the field training exercise portion of Resolute Dragon 23 was an opportunity to rehearse and strengthen the command and control, multi-domain maneuver, and sustainment of the bilateral forces.
The U.S. – Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and the unbreakable partnership between the forces is the bedrock of that alliance.