Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, 30th Infantry Regiment, 12th Brigade, Eastern Army, fast rope out of an MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft during Forest Light 17-1 at Camp Soumagahara, Japan, March 9, 2017. Forest Light is a semi-annual exercise conducted by U.S. and Japanese forces to strengthen interoperability and combined capabilities in defense. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kelsey Dornfeld

CAMP SOUMAGAHARA, Japan — American Marine Corps and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces conducted aerial integration training using the Marines’ MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and Japanese CH-47 Chinook helicopters during exercise Forest Light 17-1 in the Soumagahara training area of Gunma prefecture, Japan, March 10, 2017.

This portion of the exercise familiarized both nations’ forces with each other’s aviation platforms, training techniques and execution of various mission sets. As the aircraft hovered above the ground, U.S. and Japanese forces fast roped safely to the ground from each other’s platforms.

Additionally, the bilateral forces conducted simulated casualty evacuation drills using MV-22B Osprey aircraft. Both drills increased combined readiness to events such as natural disaster or crises where an agile and adaptable force is required.

‘We Truly Are Stronger Together’

“The value of this training is that it reinforces that we truly are stronger together,” said Lt. Col. Ryan M. Hoyle, the commanding officer for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

Approximately 600 U.S. Marines and sailors assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force deployed via six MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to Yokota Air Base, Japan, to execute Forest Light 17-1. The assimilation of Marine infantry units and aircraft from Okinawa with JGSDF units on mainland Japan allows for continuous integration and cooperation of bilateral forces, which reduces the impact of training on Okinawa.

The U.S. forces are partnered with Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces personnel from 30th Infantry Regiment, 12th Brigade, Eastern Army, to defend the peace and security provided by the longstanding U.S.-Japanese Alliance.

Hoyle said the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces are working to identify their differences, find common ground and close all gaps to ensure the combined forces are formidable and ready.

“I’m excited to see the training and observe the stronger team at the end,” Hoyle said.