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Marines participate in exercise to test readiness between Japanese and American forces

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Marines train for readiness
A U.S. Marine and a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Soldier coordinate with each other during a chemical exposure drill as part of exercise Active Shield at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 18, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stephen Campbell)

U.S. Marines conducted joint training with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers during exercise Active Shield at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 17-18, 2017.

The exercise helped the station stay mission ready by simulating real-world scenarios that helped them identify and react to potential security risks.

“Active Shield is a bilateral, multi-day exercise we conduct with the JGSDF,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Brattain, the deputy provost marshal with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “This year we spread out to multiple installations within the base cluster, going to several (areas) north of here to conduct security support for the 10th Regional Support Group and Army organizations.”

The exercise built cohesion between JGSDF and Marines by bringing them together to collaborate and respond to each situation as one unit.

Station operations, the Provost Marshal’s Office, Security Augmentation Forces, the station fire departments and hazardous materials response team, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and Combat Logistics Company 36 worked with the JGSDF 13th Brigade 46th Regiment military police and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Guard Section Observe to make this year’s exercise successful.

“This gives us an opportunity to work together to exercise bilateral-base defense,” said Brattain. “It’s about tackling the problem jointly.”

Brattain also said Active Shield allowed each side to evaluate what each individual and unit brought to the table.

Scenarios were conducted throughout the base, some happening simultaneously, to see how Marines and JGSDF personnel would react.

“Communication is the number one thing,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. William Nuche, a military policeman with H&HS. “It can be the deciding factor when there’s so much going on around you. If one person is doing one thing and someone else is doing something completely different, and they’re not on the same page then we can’t support each other properly or have a smooth operation.”

Brattain says the most important thing to take away from Active Shield is to believe that even the smallest things on a day-to-day basis are important.

“Everything you do matters,” said Brattain. “Your sentry duty, a normal fence line check or a perimeter check matters. When we go into a heightened-security posture like this, all of our actions are magnified. The threat is magnified. When we start ramping up in force-protection conditions like this, the small stuff is what matters.”

Story by Lance Cpl. Gabriela Garcia-Herrera

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