AIBANO TRAINING AREA, Japan - Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, joined with Japan Ground Self Defense Force members from Middle Army's, 10th Division, 33rd Infantry Regiment, in a ceremony that initiated the annual bilateral, tactical level field training exercise known as Orient Shield 12.In typical military fashion, the two units formed on a parade field, more than 1,000 personnel, to be addressed by the commanders of both units as dozens of Japanese media members observed the ceremony."It is very important to enrich our ability in smooth bilateral cooperation by maturing our mutual understanding and communication in peace time through bilateral exercise to make the U.S.-Japan alliance more efficient. I hope that the U.S.-Japan alliance will be strengthen through this field training exercise," said Col. Kojo Furuya, commander of the 10th Division's, 33rd Infantry Regiment. "Being that this is the first bilateral exercise between a Stryker Battalion and the JGSDF we have an excellent opportunity to increase our bilateral relationship."As part of the exercise the 1-14th Infantry Regiment deployed 15 Stryker vehicles to Japan. This is the first time since the vehicle was introduced to the U.S. Army in 2000 that it has participated in an exercise in Japan.Lt. Col. Jon Larsen, commander of the 1-14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, said his unit is focused on the training. "From the satisfaction of hard training, we look forward to the reward of the unique fellowship that is found only in our profession of arms. COL Furuya, we cannot wait to begin training with you and your troops!"At the conclusion of the ceremony, the members of the JGSDF and the media were treated to multiple static displays of the 1-14th's equipment and vehicles.Orient Shield is an annual premier tactical level bilateral exercise co-hosted by U.S. Army Japan and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The exercise will run from now until Nov. 8 and involves more than 750 soldiers and 600 ground self defense force members.