I Corps liaisons and the Japanese Self-Defense Force work side-by-side to enhance readiness and build Partnerships of Strength during Yama Sakura 79.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – I Corps liaisons and the Japanese Self-Defense Force work side-by-side to enhance readiness and build Partnerships of Strength during Yama Sakura 79. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lt. Gen. Randy George participates in the  Yama Sakura 79 opening ceremony via joint video conference with members of the Japanese Self-Defense Force.
Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral, command post exercise that allows for the exchange of techniques and military experience and strengthens the bonds between the two nations. This year's exercise has the unique quality of being the first training of this scale conducted virtually.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Gen. Randy George participates in the Yama Sakura 79 opening ceremony via joint video conference with members of the Japanese Self-Defense Force.
Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral, command post exercise that allows for the exchange of techniques and military experience and strengthens the bonds between the two nations. This year's exercise has the unique quality of being the first training of this scale conducted virtually.
(Photo Credit: Sgt. Robert O'Steen, 5th MPAD)
VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - In a demonstration of U.S. commitment to its allies under any condition, I Corps has transformed Yama Sakura 79 into the largest geographically dispersed virtual training event in the exercise's 38-year history, with more than 500 U.S. and Japanese service members working together while nearly 5,000 miles apart.

The unique quality of this year's exercise was apparent right from the opening ceremony - instead of Japanese and American Soldiers in side-by-side formations at a Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) parade field, the virtual opening ceremony saw both sides tuning into a live stream conference across a secure network Dec. 6. I Corps and the JGSDF will continue to train and strengthen their strategic partnership, despite the pandemic, via electronic communication and video conferences throughout the weeklong exercise.

“We are proud to demonstrate the strength of our partnership with the JGSDF and the capabilities we maintain for long range communication and fires coordination," said Lt. Gen. Randy George, I Corps commander, from a field site on JBLM in his opening ceremony speech. "Our ally's commitment to the exercise despite COVID restrictions really speaks volumes about the strength of our partnership with the JGSDF."

Yama Sakura is an annual, seven-day, command post exercise that enables U.S. military and JGSDF to train against a realistic scenario that tests both capabilities and interoperability to fulfill obligations under the mutual defense treaty to defend Japan and enhance stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region. I Corps serves as high command and land component command for Yama Sakura, overseeing units from the 25th Infantry Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and U.S. Army Japan. I Corps normally sends more than 200 Soldiers to Japan for the annual exercise, but due to COVID restrictions only a small contingent of liaison officers traveled there this year.