U.S. Marines, Australian soldiers and Japan's brand-new amphibious force carried out a mock beach raid this week, giving a glimpse into how the three countries could unite to defend contested islands in the Pacific.
The troops packed into amphibious assault vehicles to go ashore in Bowen, a coastal town in eastern Queensland, Australia, during Exercise Talisman Sabre. Some then pushed further, where they were tasked with raiding a factory.
The AAVs launched from the amphibious transport dock ship Green Bay while Landing Craft, Air Cushion hovercraft from the amphibious assault ship Wasp brought Humvees and light-armored reconnaissance vehicles ashore.
Combining Navy and Marine Corps assets allowed the troops to carry out a "large forcible entry," Maj. Mike Mroszczak, operations officer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a news release describing the groundbreaking exercise.
"The fact that U.S. Marines, the Australian Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted an amphibious combined joint forcible entry into the same objective area here during Talisman Sabre cannot be [overstated]," he said.
Japan's new Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade was stood up last year amid tensions between that country and China over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. recognizes Japan's administration of the tiny chain of uninhabited islands should China attempt to take them.
There are about 2,000 Japanese troops in the amphibious brigade, of which about 300 participated in Talisman Sabre, Stars and Stripes reported.
Talisman Sabre ran for three weeks, with the U.S., Australian and Japanese troops conducting air, sea and land assaults. The exercise ended with the Wasp making a port visit to Brisbane, Australia.