The final group of Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 3rd Infantry Division, arrived in Japan June 8, 2021, to begin a 14-day restriction of movement prior to the start of Exercise Orient Shield 21-2. Groups of Soldiers in this unit began arriving earlier this month.
Upon completion of the mandatory RoM, these Soldiers will take part in Orient Shield, which is the largest annual bilateral field training exercise in Japan between the U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. This exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between the two nations.
The exercise is comprised of approximately 1,700 U.S. and roughly 3,000 JGSDF personnel.
Orient Shield has been held since 1985, this being the 35th installment. This exercise is a demonstration of the U.S.’s and Japan’s shared promise to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This is a partner force mission to enhance relations with the JGSDF and to show the capabilities of the U.S. Army to deploy anywhere at any time,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Pecha, commander of 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt.”
During the exercise, Black Lion Soldiers will live and work closely with their Japanese counterparts as they share tactics and techniques in a realistic environment. This training will exercise the knowledge, capabilities and leadership abilities of the participants.
“We are extremely prepared for the baseline tasks we’ve been asked to do including squad and platoon-level live fires,” said Pecha.
Pecha said that Black Lion Soldiers trained extensively for this exercise in the previous months, including time spent qualifying their Soldiers during Expert Infantry Badge, Expert Medical Badge, and Expert Soldier badge training.
For many of the participants, this is their first trip abroad and their first time training with international partners.
Spc. Jordan Colgoazier, an indirect fire infantryman with 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., is excited to train with Japanese forces.
“It’s my first time overseas, and it will be a cool experience to be training overseas with the Japanese,” he said.
Although restricted to U.S. military installations in Japan during this 14-day period, Black Lion Soldiers continue to hone their warfighting skills in preparation for the upcoming exercise. Soldiers have already begun to utilize the tactical training facilities located on Camp Fuji, where many of the Soldiers are staying, while ensuring they are limiting exposure to both Japanese locals and JGSDF soldiers.
This year, the exercise was designed specifically to test the ability to move Soldiers into Japan during a COVID-constrained environment while adhering to both U.S. and Japan health standards.
“This fourteen day restriction of movement upon arrival is to ensure the safety of our force, but also the safety of our Japanese partners,” explained Pecha.
Although COVID has changed some specifics within the exercise, Orient Shield continues to be a premiere partnership opportunity in the Pacific region and Black Lion Soldiers recognize the importance of being invited to take part.
“This mission is a reward to us for all the hard work our organization has been doing,” said Pecha.