CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan (Oct. 27, 2014) -- Approximately 800 U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force personnel kicked-off Orient Shield 14 during an opening ceremony here, today.The ceremony took place in a rain-soaked field surrounded by a display of American Stryker and Japanese fighting vehicles and an array of U.S. and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, known as JGSDF, helicopters that will be used by nearly 700 Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and roughly 900 JGSDF members from the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, Northern Army, during field training exercises, scheduled for Oct. 27 - Nov. 7.The aim of Orient Shield 14 is to conduct and improve U.S. Army and JGSDF bilateral operations and improve combat planning readiness at the battalion level, while increasing company and platoon tactical level experience through the exchange of ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences."I see the partnership that has already begun to form between the 7th Armored Division and the 2nd Stryker Brigade and together we will refine our interoperability and demonstrate our continued dedication to the development of both our teams," said commander Col. Louis Zeisman, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team."We will be better for our efforts, and even stronger friends," Zeisman exclaimed.The exercise promotes teamwork and collaboration through a series of combined light infantry, squad-level training events that include urban assault, building clearing and medical evacuation to name a few. The exercise will culminate with troops working side-by-side in a scenario-based tactical field training exercise that includes an air assault mission."I expect that through units' mutual understanding and the strengthening of individual communication, by the end of this exercise Japanese and U.S. forces will experience improvements in tactics and skills, and higher interoperability," said 7th Division chief of staff, Col. Hiroshi Ishida, during his remarks. "It is highly significant for us tactical unit's troops on the ground to improve mutual understanding, communication and interoperability during peacetime, in preparation for seamless bilateral operations," Ishida said.The annual field training exercise is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Japan and the JGSDF. Orient Shield 14 marks the 28th iteration of the exercise, allowing the two forces to learn from each other, ultimately making real-world contingency planning more effective and efficient.