CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan - U.S. Army Aviators are working and flying side-by-side with their Japanese counterparts throughout Orient Shield 14 here, Oct 27 - Nov. 7.
The aviation Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment based out of Wheeler Field, Hawaii, are partnering with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members from the 7th Aviation Unit from Sapporo, Japan.
Throughout the training exercise, the two aviation units are working together at all levels conducting scenario-based operational planning, close combat air attacks, air assault missions, aero-medical evacuations and aircraft refueling.
"It is truly a testament to the confidence in proficiency and professionalism of our respective forces that we are able to do the complex operations in such a short time working with our counterparts," said Lt. Col. Hunter Marshall, 3rd Bn., 25th Avn. Reg. and Task Force Hammerhead commander.
Orient Shield 14 is an annual, bilateral exercise with the JGSDF and the U.S. Army. This is the 28th iteration of the Japan-based exercise series that enhances U.S. and Japan combat readiness and operational abilities through the exchange of ideas, tactics and military experiences.
One of the focused training opportunities was a three-day air assault exercise that combined 15 Army and JGSDF aircraft and over 200 personnel conducting flight operations, Oct 29-31. The training included U.S. Army UH-60 "Black Hawk" and UH-64E "Apache" helicopters along with the JGSDF CH-47 Chinook. The aviators exchanged, demonstrated and then conducted their counterparts' tactics and techniques to arrive at an overall objective.
"Because of this training we can learn how to work together on a common mission with similar airframes," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anya Sharman, a UH-60 "Blackhawk" pilot, 3rd Bn., 25th Avn. Reg. "It's interesting to see how we arrive at the same goal for the mission with our different procedures and sharing them to expand it."
During an air assault, aviators insert groups of JGSDF and U.S. infantry Soldiers into an objective area using precision procedures that allow them to attack and evade an enemy force.
"The main focus of the helicopter assault is to fine-tune aviation operations and tactics to improve our ability to work together, and this exercise enhances the skills necessary to do just that," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Carlos Acevedo, 3rd Bn., 25th Combat Avn. Reg. Battalion Standardization Pilot.
"We are working primarily to integrate with the Japanese aviation forces, and combine our efforts conducting air assaults, air-to-ground integration and training and techniques. We are mostly working to improve each other's techniques and learn from each other," Acevedo explained.
"In aviation we have our own set of communications and challenges throughout the flights, but overall we have been working very well together," Acevedo added.
The air assault is just one of the training evolutions executed during Orient Shield 14, an exercise that strengthens bilateral relationships and collaboration between U.S. forces and JGSDF for future combined operations and to support interests of friends and allies in the region.
"Our work with U.S. aviation leaves a deep impression. We are happy with our ability to work together," said Maj. Endo Makoto, executive officer assigned to the 7th Aviation Unit, Sapporo, Japan.
"We learn a lot from one another and it's a very great thing. Of great importance is the U.S. has shared operational history and experiences that work well in combat, which we do not have," Makoto explained.