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I Corps is back in Japan for Yama Sakura 65

JBLM participates in annual, bilateral exercise with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, I Corps commanding general, addresses the attendees as Lt. Gen. Kishirou Tanabe, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Northern Army commanding general, logs information during the executive academic discussion held Dec. 4, 2013 at Fri

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A large part to maintaining this country's national security lies in how well it works with its allies in the Pacific.

To that end, I Corps and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force's (JGSDF) Northern Army are taking part in Yama Sakura 65 at Camp Higashi-Chitose, located on the island of Hokkaido.

Operations between the two countries kicked off on Nov. 29 and will end Thursday, Dec. 12. Approximately 400 of the 1,000 American soldiers participating are from Joint Base Lewis-McChord; more than 4,000 JGSDF soldiers took part.

Yama Sakura 65 (YS65) is designed to improve readiness, expand mutual understanding and enhance interoperability between Japanese and American forces.

"The purpose of the exercise is to deepen bilateral relations between Japan and the U.S.," commented Lt. Gen. Kishirou Tanabe, commanding general of JGSDF's Northern Army.

YS65 marks the third major Asia-Pacific exercise for I Corps, with the others being held in Australia and South Korea.

"It will be to strengthen our relationship between organizations and include various agencies into the exercise.  In addition, we will also focus on the cyber aspect of the operation from a bilateral perspective."

Tanabe also pointed out that in deepening bilateral relations, there are challenges to be overcome.

"It is crucial that we mutually understand Japanese and U.S. force tactics, combat methods and capabilities, and overcome the differences through coordination and cooperation and creativity," Tanabe pointed out.

This sounds like a challenge tailor made for I Corps's leadership.

"We are living national security," Col. David Johnson, director, public affairs, said. "This is great joint and bilateral training."

The point of Yama Sakura 65 is for the two militaries to develop relationships and confidence as they work through simulated challenges.

The computer simulated scenarios are designed to test logistics, medical, air, naval communications connectivity and security within both armies and bilaterally.

YS65 also saves the taxpayers dollars.

"We are very aware of budget constraints," Johnson pointed out. "Training through simulations is cost effective while underscoring the relationship between the U.S. and Japan."

The idea of strengthening this relationship in order to meet future challenges is key to I Corps' top officer.

"The point of the training is not so much about the when, where, who or what the challenge is," explained Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general, I Corps, during a telephone interview. 

"The ‘how' in how we meet the challenges of the future is what is important."

Brown went on to emphasize that training with the Japanese is a key component of the Army's rebalance to the Pacific.

"Through these activities, we learn to operate together, to cooperate, and we get a personal view of each other that can pay off in the long term.  Basically, we will be ready for every situation - from disaster response to self-defense."

Tanabe agreed.

"I strongly believe that this confidence will be the secret to the success of the bilateral operations and contribute to the expansion of the stronger connections between Japan and the United States."

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