YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. (Sept. 3, 2014) -- Operation Rising Thunder roared to a start with an opening ceremony yesterday, at Yakima Training Center, here.

Soldiers with 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and their counterparts in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, referred to as the JGSDF, came together in a ceremony marking the beginning of a month of interoperability training.

"We're pleased to be a part of such an important event," said Lt. Col. Jeff Bryson, commander of 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. "Our mission is to facilitate this bilateral training to ensure the JGSDF have an increased ability to defend their homeland."

Operation Rising Thunder was designed to bring U.S. and Japanese forces together for training, and the opening ceremony marked the 16th anniversary of the operation.

"The focus of this exercise is to train combined arms in conjunction with maneuver and firepower, to perform comprehensive combat power with combined arms units and train bilaterally between Japan and the U.S to enhance interoperability," said Col. Takashi Goto, a JGSDF commander.

More than 300 JGSDF personnel and 470 U.S. Soldiers are scheduled to perform urban assault, sniper training, and combined arms training, among other tasks, during September.

"Since the 2nd Division is aligned to the Pacific, opportunities to train together are of increasing importance in the global environment," said Bryson.

Bryson looked forward to having his Soldiers interact with their Japanese counterparts, share experiences, and build personal relationships, to strengthen trust between the two nations.

"Through comprehensive training we are confident that the Japanese and the U.S. will have a strengthened working relationship," said Bryson.

The focus of this year's training is interoperability, said Bryson.

"We will build a mutual trust between Japan and the United States to complete the mission," said Goto. "I'd like to express appreciation to battalion commander Lt. Col. Bryson for providing logistics, ammunition and security."

Operation Rising Thunder is scheduled to end Sept. 23.

Page last updated Wed September 3rd, 2014 at 06:41