GSDF, U.S. Marines conduct island drill in Guam

U.S. Marines and Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force have successfully conducted a training mission intended to bolster their abilities to defend remote islands.

Te exercise on Guam, a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific, was the final element of a wider island-focused exercise combining U.S. and Japanese forces, and was shown to the news media as it was being conducted amid rising tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands controversy.  Even as it was under way, and media were making comparisons, the GSDF said the exercise was not designed or carried out with any specific island or foreign aggressor in mind.

Some 40 GSDF troops took part in the drill, which was based on a scenario in which an isolated island was seized by foreign forces.  Japanese and U.S. troops were seen leaving small boats and landing on Guam’s northern shore.  After setting foot on the island, Japanese troops advanced inland with rifles to “retake” the island.  The drill involved Marines from the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Courtney, and the GSDF’s Western Army, which guards Kyushu and remote islands in the region.

Both forces have previously conducted joint exercises at training ranges on the U.S. West Coast and in mountainous regions of Japan.  The current exercise, however, was specifically designed to improve their capability to defend remote islands.  The 37-day exercise kicked off in Okinawa in late August before moving to Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands, and Anderson Air Force Base on nearby Guam.