Getting exercise in the Pacific: Yama Sakura 59


"You call that a PT uniform?!" Wisconsin National Guardsman Pfc. Brett Cook is "turning Japanese" as he tours the Kumamoto Castle. (U.S. Army Photo/Sgt. Jerry De Avila)

Several thousand American and Japanese troops are simulating missile attacks, guerrilla warfare and a full-scale invasion of Japan as part of a major”Yama Sakura” war games through Feb 3.

About 1,500 U.S. troops and 4,500 Japanese military personnel have flooded the southwestern island of Kyusku, but Yama Sakura is mainly a command post exercise executed through computer simulations, rather than real-world deployment of troops.

The Canadian Press reports Japan’s  increasing concern about its defenses around the Okinawan islands because of, “incursions into its sea lanes by Chinese warships,” and possible aggression from neighboring North Korea.

Japan is reportedly boosting its monitoring capabilities in the region and possibly its submarine fleet.

Under a mutual security treaty, about 50,000 U.S. troops are deployed throughout Japan, including major Air Force, Marine and Navy units. The U.S. Army component is smaller, but trains intensely with its Japanese counterpart.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the U.S. Army Pacific, said the exercises are designed to enhance the troops’ ability to fight together, and demonstrate the U.S. resolve to support the security interests of Washington’s allies.

“Many countries throughout the region face increasing security challenges and transnational threats,” he said.


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