FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Usually separated by an ocean, they have come together this month at Fort Lewis in pursuit of the same goals.

Opening ceremonies were held Tuesday on North Fort Lewis for Rising Warrior 2008, a bilateral training exercise involving Fort Lewis' 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, and the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Rising Warrior will continue through Oct. 20.

Rising Warrior is one of I Corps' Theater Security Cooperation activities within the Pacific Command area of responsibility. These activities help the U.S. meet its regional security objectives. Goodwill and an increased training level between U.S. and JGSDF Soldiers are among the goals of Rising Warrior.

"This is a great opportunity for the Buffaloes to learn from our partners in the 22nd Regiment and for both units to improve our warfighting skills," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Neumann, commander of the 1-17 Inf., during the ceremony.

As Neumann pointed out, it wasn't the first time 1-17 Inf. and the 22nd Regt. had been on the same field. That had occurred in May 1945 during the battle for Okinawa.

"The 17th Regiment was directly across the lines from a 22nd Regiment of the 24th Division of the Japanese Imperial Army," Neumann said.

"The issues that faced the generations before us have long been decided, and now we stand together on this field to better prepare ourselves to meet the challenges that our nations face today," Neumann said.

Rising Warrior will feature individual and collective training with 1-17 Inf. and its Japanese counterparts. Battalion headquarters will conduct joint command-and-control with the JGSDF 22nd Infantry Regimental headquarters.

"The combined training that we do in the next two weeks will make us both stronger units and better ready to accomplish any mission in defense of our two great nations," Neumann said.

Col. Shigeru Kanno, the 22nd Inf. Regt. commander, said Rising Warrior was an opportunity for each military to become familiar with the other's ways.

"We must understand the differences of culture and customs, communicate closely, exchange combat tactics and learn how to train," Kanno said. "It's important to build up a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Japan by making a trustworthy partner and effective interoperability.

"We will train and live in the same place from today to the 20th of October. So we must communicate closely, not only in the training but also in living."

At the conclusion of the ceremony, formations of Soldiers from the 1-17 Inf. and the 22nd Regt. turned and saluted each other in a gesture of respect and admiration.

Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri October 10th, 2008 at 15:48