Yama Sakura is a bilateral training exercise between U.S. Army and Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces in order to enhance cooperation procedures during contingency operations. While this exercise is primarily for command posts, it is also an opportunity to teach U.S. forces and its allies about a new type of warfare currently being waged through computers, smartphones and many other sources of communication.
Across cultures, there is one thing that has developed, united and brought enemies among all of us. Social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter have become a huge commodity in culture between the United States and the rest of the world. For the younger generation, the means of hasty communication has become a normalcy for life. A constant need to inform and communicate with society has become standard.
“It’s now part of the fabric of society. Not just in the U.S, but globally, so it’s a question of understanding what the challenges are and ensuring there is good education and training for Soldiers using social media sites,” said Maj. Gen. James Walton, 311th Signal Command commander.
This new fabric in society has caused U.S. Soldiers to be more vigilant and recognize the importance of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. All military forces need to understand the importance the roles of cyber defense and inoperability have on the United States and its allies.
As part of the exercise, Walton hosted a briefing for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force on cyber defense. The briefing touched on key points, such as improving the cyber security posture of Japanese military network, provide threat awareness training and facilitate lead-scenario-based academic discussions. Yama Sakura 63 is an opportunity to share our lessons learned with our counterparts, Walton said.
“We will accomplish this by orienting JGSDF personnel to potential threats in the Pacific and identifying cyber needs to shape future engagements,” said Col. Nora Marcos, U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) Signal Officer, U.S. Army Pacific.
The cyber threat awareness and training during the Yama Sakura exercise is the foundation for further and future implementation. It will give the JGSDF a similar understanding of where they are in their process of adapting their military organizations to address threats.
“We are ensuring we increase the interoperability so we can achieve a unified common operating force,” Walton said.
He added, “With two partners having significant language and cultural differences, interoperability is almost an essential requirement in order to mitigate difficult technical and operational tasks.”
Japanese and U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers are fully engaged on this topic.
“It’s a great partnership and an honor to work with the Japanese,” Walton said. “They are really involved and particularly interested in the key successes of our partnership. There is no question that Yama Sakura is equally as important to them as it is to the United States.”