Japan and U.S. armed forces have commenced the training exercise Northern Viper at Hokudaien and Yausubetsu Training Areas in the Hokkaido Prefecture of Japan on Jan. 26.
During the exercise, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) will conduct a bilateral, combined arms exercise and live-fire training in conjunction with ground and aviation units by utilizing the favorable training foundation of Hokkaido. The exercise will continue until Feb. 8.
“This is an opportunity for us to improve our own tactics, techniques, and procedures in cold weather and also an opportunity for us to improve our interoperability with our Ground Self-Defense Force counterparts”, said Col. Jason S. D. Perry, commander of the USMC Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) currently participating in Northern Viper.
During this iteration, the combined force will focus on winter combat training, bilateral marksmanship integrated with firepower and maneuver, helicopter diving fire, sniper training, combined arms integration, a Japan and U.S comprehensive bilateral attack, and a Low Altitude Tactics insert from MV-22B Osprey.
Northern Viper will include approximately 2,300 Marines from across III Marine Expeditionary Force. These units will include units from 3rd Marine Division, such as 4th Marine Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, Amphibious Assault Company, and Light Armored Reconnaissance Company.
They will also include units from 1st Marine Air Wing such as Marine Aircraft Group 36, Marine Air Control Group 18, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, and Marine Wing support Squadron 172. Joining the exercise from 3rd Marine Logistics Group is the Combat Logistics Battalion 4. Joining the exercise from the III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group is 3d Law Enforcement Battalion. Also joining Northern Viper from 3rd Marine Division is 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, a Marine Forces Reserve battalion that is forward-deployed to 4th Marine Regiment as part of the Unit Deployment Program. Their deployment validates the readiness and skill of the reserves to augment their active duty counterparts.
The U.S. Marines will join approximately 650 of their Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) counterparts from 4th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, as well as approximately 500 soldiers from 5th Field Artillery Unit.