(From Asahi Shimbun)
By Yusuke Fukui
SAN DIEGO–In joint military exercises off southern California, Japanese and U.S. troops are simulating the defense and reclaiming of remote islands.
As part of Dawn Blitz, a live-round amphibious exercise, Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile-interceptor system and U.S. Navy vessels bombarded the “enemy-held” San Clemente Island on Sept. 1 based on information provided by Ground SDF members and U.S. Marines who had landed on the isle.
GSDF members were seen radioing guidance in English to U.S. Navy artillery during the operation.
A total of 1,100 troops of the Ground, Maritime and Air SDFs are taking part in Dawn Blitz, which is scheduled to run through Sept. 9. Japanese participants include the GSDF’s Western Army Infantry Regiment, a unit that specializes in defending outlying islands.
The aim of Dawn Blitz is for Japanese and U.S. forces to showcase their cooperative skills in island warfare.
It is the second time the SDF has joined the annual exercise. It first took part in 2013 following heightened tensions with China over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Units from Mexico and New Zealand, along with troops from Australia, Colombia and Chile, are also participating in the drill.
For the United States, Dawn Blitz also aims to improve the joint amphibious assault capabilities among the nation and its allies in preparation for forming a coalition force in the future.