Photo Information

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and soldiers with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, Western Infantry Regiment salute during the playing of the national anthem at the opening ceremony of exercise Iron Fist here Feb. 8. The bilateral training exercise will allow the Marines, sailors and soldiers an opportunity to work together and improve their amphibious capabilities while strengthening the bond between the U.S. and Japan.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Gene Allen Ainsworth III

Ceremony marks beginning of Exercise Iron Fist

8 Feb 2011 | Cpl. Elyssa Quesada

The First Marine Expeditionary Force and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit welcomed the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force’s Western Infantry Regiment to the start of exercise Iron Fist here Feb. 8. The bilateral training planned during the next month will showcase each component of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, from small boat operations and aerial inserts to company sized live-fire events.

“It was a good opening ceremony for Exercise Iron Fist,” said Col. Michael R. Hudson, the 11th MEU commanding officer. “It was a great start for what will be one of the best opportunities to train with our allies."

The exercise is designed to reinforce the relationship between the two services while aiding the Japanese in their continued development of their amphibious capabilities.

The soldiers of the Western Infantry Regiment are looking forward to the opportunity to experience this type of training and hope this experience will deepen the relationship between the U.S. and Japanese militaries, according to Col. Akira Kurosawa, the regiment’s commanding officer.

During the training, the Marines, sailors and Japanese soldiers will board USS Makin Island and USS Dubuque to interoperate with their Navy counterparts, practice ship-to-shore movements and perform command and control afloat.

"We're working hard, we've put some significant resources in this," said Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, the First Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commanding general. "The Japanese have made a significant investment as well… It is a commitment on both sides to have a high quality training experience that draws two nations closer together.”

Exercise Iron Fist, which has been conducted annually in Southern California since 2006, will allow both services to focus on amphibious operations and Marine Corps-JGSDF rapport.

For more information, contact the 11th MEU public affairs officer, Capt. Roger Hollenbeck, at 760-846-4947,, or visit the MEU at or

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