Artillery vehicle

Mortar and artillery fire from Camp Pendleton with Iron Fist 2022 – Orange County Register

Gunfire roared through the 409 Delta training area on Wednesday, a summer day at Camp Pendleton, as armored personnel carriers raced along the roads firing their high-powered automatic weapons systems at a fictional enemy hidden in a distant buttress.

Units from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force have been training together since Jan. 10 at Iron Fist 2022. The annual drills will last six weeks and end later this month.

  • Japanese soldiers use their own amphibious assault vehicles during Iron Fist training with Marines at Camp Pendleton on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Marines train alongside Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers during the annual Iron Fist drills at Camp Pendleton Feb. 9, 2022. Marines use an amphibious combat vehicle, left, and Japanese soldiers use their own combat vehicles. amphibious assault in live ammunition exercises. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Marines prepare to train alongside Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers during the annual Iron Fist drills at Camp Pendleton Feb. 9, 2022. Marines use an amphibious combat vehicle and Japanese soldiers use their own combat vehicle. amphibious assault in live ammunition training. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Japan Self-Defense Forces train with live ammunition at Camp Pendleton during annual bilateral Iron Fist exercises with Marines on Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Captain Shinichi Morimoto, left, and Major Eiichi Tanaka, both with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, work with Marine Sgt. Ryan Dills during the annual Iron Fist bilateral training at Camp Pendleton on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Marines and members of the press observe drills during the annual Iron Fist bilateral training program at Camp Pendleton with Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG )

  • A map shows the training area for the annual bilateral Iron Fist exercises with Marines and Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers at Camp Pendleton on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Japan Self-Defense Forces train with live ammunition at Camp Pendleton during annual bilateral Iron Fist exercises with Marines on Feb. 9, 2022. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Marines train alongside Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers during the annual Iron Fist drills at Camp Pendleton on Feb. 9, 2022. Marines use an amphibious combat vehicle, shown, and Japanese soldiers use their own combat vehicles. amphibious assault in live ammunition training. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Some 900 Marines and nearly 200 Japanese soldiers trained off Camp Pendleton’s shore, on its beaches, through its ranges and canyons, in the air and in the harsh desert at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

Marines and soldiers work on advanced marksmanship, amphibious reconnaissance and transport, logistics and medical support, and fire support operations.

The training is critical to Japan’s maritime defense strategies, especially as tensions with China and North Korea continue over competing islands and territories.

“We are fortunate to have these exercises in a wonderful area here at Camp Pendleton,” Major General Shingo Nashinoki, commanding general of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, said Wednesday through an interpreter. “Having long-range shots that we can’t in Japan has become very important to us.

The Marines were training with their new armored amphibious fighting vehicles, which replace the Vietnamese-era amphibious assault vehicle. Aging AAVs are being phased out and are no longer used in water or for deployments. Amphibious vehicles are used to transfer troops between ships and shore and can travel on land and in the ocean.

For the Iron Fist formation, the Japanese brought their own newer AAVs, which were acquired in 2017.

As part of the sea training, the Marines and Japanese soldiers practiced maneuvering the heavy tank-like vehicles through the waves, retrieving personnel from the water and transferring crews from a vehicle to another.

“We are not only benefiting from training with our Japanese allies, but laying down fundamentals that our ACV platoon can build on,” said Lt. Gen. George Smith, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. . The training incorporates new protocols and procedures put in place after the sinking of an AAV in 2020 during pre-deployment training off San Clemente Island. Eight Marines and one sailor died.

Among some of the lessons learned from the accident is the importance of “the gradual formation of the building blocks for both the crew and the embarked Marines,” Smith said.

The ACV training during this exercise will be the first to deploy with a maritime expeditionary unit.

The AAV tragedy also affected the Japanese military, its officials said. There are 52 AAVs in the country and safety checks were carried out on all vehicles in August. Prior to beach drills at Red Beach at Camp Pendleton, each vehicle was inspected for watertightness.

Iron Fist has evolved over decades and aims to strengthen ties between the United States and its ally Japan. While Marines mentored Japanese soldiers in amphibious combat and live-fire tactics, Marines also learn techniques from Japanese soldiers. The goal is to become familiar with each other’s tactics, technology and strategy, officials said.

The two generals underlined the values ​​shared by the two armies and the goals of freedom of navigation, a free and open Indo-Pacific and respect for international laws.

“When these shared values ​​and goals are threatened, we must deter against those threats,” Smith said. “Exercise Iron Fist is just one example of this deterrence.”