Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, 40th Infantry Division (“Sunshine Division”) commander; Lt. Gen. Shin Nozawa,Japan Ground Self-Defense Force commander; and Mr. Minoru Kihara, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security Affairs, delivered remarks during the Orient Shield 21-2 opening ceremony at Camp Itami June 24. Orient Shield 21-2 is the largest U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force bilateral field training exercise being executed in various locations throughout Japan. This exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between the two nations.
The exercise is comprised of approximately 1,700 U.S. and roughly 3,000 JGSDF personnel. Orient Shield has been held since 1985, this being the 35th installment. Although restricted to U.S. military installations in Japan during this 14-day period, U.S. Army Soldiers continue to hone their warfighting skills in preparation for the upcoming exercise. The exercise was designed specifically to test the ability to move Soldiers into Japan during a COVID-constrained environment while adhering to both U.S. and Japan health standards.
The exercise is designed to enhance bilateral combat effectiveness at the battalion and brigade levels while strengthening military-to-military relationships and demonstrating American commitment to support regional security interests. Rotating between JGSDF divisions of the five Regional Armies, Orient Shield leverages the unique capabilities of the training units to provide for ever-increasing tactical complexity and realism. The ongoing tension around North Korea’s nuclear program has added an additional layer of importance to the annual exercise.
Since 1985, it has focused on development and refinement of systems and tactics in order to enhance bilateral tactical planning, coordination, and interoperability. Originally executed as a one week platoon-level Field Training Exercise (FTX), Orient Shield has evolved into a two week battalion-level FTX, brigade-level computer assisted Command Post Exercise (CPX), and company-level Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX). In 2015, Orient Shield was added to Pacific Pathways, a United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiative to improve readiness and the scope and quality of regional engagements.