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US and Japanese Forces Are Engaging in an Exercise Called Iron Fist, Where They Are Practicing Defending Islands

Credits: The Japan Times

U.S. Marines, sailors, and Japanese troops have initiated three weeks of amphibious training known as Iron Fist 24, amid growing concerns in both countries about Chinese military activities around Japan and Taiwan.

The training will focus on practicing the recapture of an island, emphasizing “island defense,” according to a spokesman from Japan’s Ground Staff Office.

The exercises, taking place on Kyushu, Okinawa, and at sea, aim to enhance the ability of Japan and the U.S. to carry out joint amphibious operations for the defense of islands in the southwest region and demonstrate the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Japan-U.S. joint military exercise (Credits: The Japan Times)

Camp Ainoura, near Sasebo Naval Base, is hosting the training, which involves the amphibious assault ship USS America and other U.S. units.

Iron Fist, now in its 18th year, highlights the deepening integration of U.S. forces with the Japanese marines. The training will include advanced marksmanship, amphibious reconnaissance, fire and maneuver assaults, logistics, medical support, and fire support operations. A key event will be a bilateral amphibious operation on Okinawa on March 12.

The exercise involves 2,100 U.S. and Japanese personnel and includes units like Combat Logistics Battalion 31, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, U.S. Navy Amphibious Squadron 11, and the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay.

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 Reinforced is providing support with helicopters, as the Ospreys remain grounded following a tiltrotor crash last November.

Several countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, the Philippines, and the Netherlands, have sent observers to the exercise. The drills aim to enhance interoperability and readiness among the participating forces and demonstrate the commitment to regional security in the face of evolving challenges.

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