Orient Shield 23 exercise enhances US-Japan readiness, deterrence

By Sean Kimmons, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsSeptember 25, 2023

A surface-to-surface missile from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System clears the tree line as it heads to its target during Orient Shield at Yausubetsu Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Sept. 20, 2023. Japanese and American teams fired missiles to designated targets while adjusting coordinates and elevation.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A surface-to-surface missile from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System clears the tree line as it heads to its target during Orient Shield at Yausubetsu Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Sept. 20, 2023. Japanese and American teams fired missiles to designated targets while adjusting coordinates and elevation. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan S. Gay) VIEW ORIGINAL
Maj. Gen. Dave Womack, center, commander of U.S. Army Japan, participates in the opening ceremony of Orient Shield 23 along with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Japan, Sept. 14, 2023. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently completed the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. Dave Womack, center, commander of U.S. Army Japan, participates in the opening ceremony of Orient Shield 23 along with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Japan, Sept. 14, 2023. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently completed the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members recently participated in the Orient Shield 23 exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability.

The 10-day exercise, which ended Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, and held by U.S. Army Pacific and the JGSDF, included bilateral field and command post training in Hokkaido, Okinawa and other locations across Japan.

“Our adversaries are watching,” said Maj. Gen. Dave Womack, commander of U.S. Army Japan. “They're watching our alliance. They are watching what we are doing to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific and it matters.”

Known as the largest annual field training exercise between the U.S. Army and JGSDF, this year’s Orient Shield allowed participants to further refine their respective multi-domain and cross-domain operations.

The pair of strategies place an emphasis on preparing for a new battlefield that could include information, space, cyber and electronic warfare.

Overall, the training scenario aimed to improve bilateral targeting processes ahead of a more complex scenario during Yama Sakura, a large-scale exercise slated for December.

The recent exercise, which is part of USARPAC’s Operation Pathways, also tested the reception, staging, onward-movement, and integration of U.S. forces deploying to Japan.

About 1,200 U.S. personnel stationed in the Indo-Pacific region as well as from Tennessee and Washington participated in this year’s iteration.

Along with personnel from the joint force and the JGSDF Northern Army, U.S. Army units that participated included:

  • 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
  • 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
  • 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
  • 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
  • 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
  • 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment, Tennessee National Guard
  • 1st Multi-Domain Task Force
U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force leaders conduct a briefing during Orient Shield 23 at Kamifurano Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Sept. 14, 2023. Orient Shield is a bilateral U.S. Army and JGSDF field training and command post exercise that focuses on converging JGSDF Cross-Domain Operations and U.S. Army Multi-Domain Operations.
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force leaders conduct a briefing during Orient Shield 23 at Kamifurano Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Sept. 14, 2023. Orient Shield is a bilateral U.S. Army and JGSDF field training and command post exercise that focuses on converging JGSDF Cross-Domain Operations and U.S. Army Multi-Domain Operations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Olivia Gum) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members practice sling load operations during Orient Shield 23. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently participated in the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability.
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members practice sling load operations during Orient Shield 23. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently participated in the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members share a meal together during Orient Shield 23. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently participated in the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability.
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members share a meal together during Orient Shield 23. About 3,500 U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members recently participated in the 10-day exercise to forge stronger bonds and increase interoperability. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Kalina Hyche) VIEW ORIGINAL
Gen. Charles A. Flynn, left, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, and Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, address members of the press following a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System demonstration during Orient Shield 23 at Yausubetsu Training Area, Japan, Sept. 20, 2023.
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Gen. Charles A. Flynn, left, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, and Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, address members of the press following a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System demonstration during Orient Shield 23 at Yausubetsu Training Area, Japan, Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Schiebel) VIEW ORIGINAL

Participants conducted various drills using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, anti-tank missiles, mortars, and aviation and infantry capabilities, in addition to medical response training, logistical transport, and other sustainment operations.

U.S. Soldiers also had the opportunity to exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and cultural information with their Japanese counterparts.

Each year, Orient Shield, which has been held since 1982, rotates among the five JGSDF regional armies. JGSDF Western Army conducted last year’s exercise that featured the implementation of the multi-domain and cross-domain operations by a bilateral force.

“The alliance between Japan and the United States has never been stronger,” said Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commander of USARPAC. “I am personally very thankful for the increased cooperation and the long-lasting friendship amongst the JGSDF and U.S. Army of the Pacific.”

Gen. Yasunori Morishita, chief of staff for the JGSDF, said that Japan must drastically strengthen its defense posture and its alliance with the U.S. Army.

“I would like to develop Japan and U.S. land forces’ interoperability further,” he said, “and work shoulder to shoulder on joint exercises and senior-level exchanges.”

Morishita, who watched some of the exercise in Hokkaido with Flynn, said he admired the robustness of both forces training together in the field.

“It is a great way to develop a relationship of trust between the Japan and U.S. land forces leadership …,” he said of the training, “and to obtain the idea for future defense cooperation.”

Flynn said he was excited about the potential of exploring new opportunities as their units continue to build on this training.

“We're collectively focusing more on strengthening deterrence and improving our response capabilities,” Flynn said.

“I am very proud of both the Japanese and American soldiers who've been working together hand in hand in this training,” he added. “They deserve all the credit for fostering a greater level of trust and interoperability that underpin our very special relationship.”

Related links:

DVIDS: Orient Shield

U.S. Army Garrison Japan news

USAG Japan official website