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U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

In Any Clime and Place

U.S., Japan strengthen defense through Active Shield

By Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan | November 16, 2016

U.S. Marines and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force personnel conducted exercise Active Shield at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 8-11, 2016.

Active Shield is an annual exercise incorporating the air station’s defense posture to test the abilities of U.S. and Japanese forces to work alongside each other to protect and defend MCAS Iwakuni and other U.S. assets in the region.

The U.S. and Japanese forces shared their techniques in different scenarios ranging from standard vehicle searches, response to suspicious packages, perimeter breaches, chemical attacks and other possible scenarios while being on station. 

“It took a lot of coordination and bilateral communication to bring this together,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Jonathan Boron, deputy provost marshal for MCAS Iwakuni. “My expectations for an exercise of this stature was that the execution of events would be rough, but that we would come together to create a plan and keep the air station safe.” 

Despite cultural and language differences, the Marines and JGSDF worked together to successfully complete tasks at hand. 

“Training with the (Japan Ground Self-Defense Force) has been outstanding,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Cameron Cooley, special reaction team commander with the Provost Marshal’s Office at MCAS Iwakuni. “There’s been a lot of integration and the only thing that seemed to come between us was the language barrier, but we seemed to push past it by letting our tactics and professionalism take the lead.” 

Incorporation of tactics from both forces was a vital part of Active Shield. Marines and JGSDF were able to learn from one another and solidify their weak spots in training scenarios. 

“We incorporated the Japanese into our training by always having them right next to us,” said Cooley. “That built their confidence in our techniques and we would do the same with them. It’s always fun to watch and learn their tactics. I know our tactics well, but seeing them train and learning from them speaks volumes about what we can accomplish together.”

While breaking language and cultural barriers, the Marines and JGSDF concluded training better prepared to take a defensive posture if the need arises. 

“This exercise correlates very well with real life scenarios,” said Boron. “We tried to imitate and simulate what our adversaries would do in the event we go into a station defense posture. It’s a very good exercise to prepare everyone here for anything that could happen.” 

Achieving better relations and perfecting techniques used in likely situations is a step to ensuring the safety of the air station and the surrounding community. 

“I hope that this exercise continues to progress,” said Boron. “We can keep growing relationships and build esprit de corps and goodwill between our countries. It’s always a pleasure working with the Japanese. They are very professional, enthusiastic, have a great work ethic and I’m looking forward to more interaction between our cultures.”