ADF personnel this month observed one of the largest joint, bilateral command post exercises undertaken in recent times.

The 28 Australians joined their counterparts from the US Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) for Exercise Yama Sakura 81, held in Japan from December 1-16.

The ADF members were primarily from the Australian Army’s 1st Division and Deployable Joint Force Headquarters.

The exercise was designed to increase joint force interoperability and strengthen the security alliance between Japan and the United States.

ADF Contingent Commander Colonel Corey Shillabeer said the exercise was focused on testing the capabilities and interoperability between partner forces in a realistic environment to meet the obligations of the Japan-US mutual security treaty.

“Exercise Yama Sakura is a major training event that focuses on the development and integration of the JGSDF cross-domain and US Army multi-domain operations,” Colonel Shillabeer said.

“Observing how Japan and the US operate and work together in a complex yet realistic scenario at the Army and corps level will better enable us to work with our close partners if required.”

The ADF contingent observed different aspects of  the activity at Camp Ainoura in Nagasaki Prefecture, Camp Itami in Hyogo Prefecture and Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture.

ADF Contingent Second in Command Lieutenant Colonel Peter Monks said the ADF had been a regular observer on Yama Sakura for the past nine years, being first invited to participate in 2012.

“Our continued involvement in Yama Sakura strengthens our longstanding partnership with Japan and the US and improves our interoperability with our partners,” Lieutenant Colonel Monks said. 

“By progressively increasing the scope of ADF participation in Yama Sakura over a number of years, we have greatly enhanced our shared understanding of the challenges inherent in multi-domain operations.

“We have also advanced Headquarters 1st Division and the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters’ working relationship with both the JGSDF Ground Component Command and the US Army I Corps.”

Planning is already underway for the ADF’s involvement in next year’s iteration of Yama Sakura as Australia continues to enhance its security relationship with both Japan and the US to promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region.