The US Army Stryker brigade set to begin exercises in Japan next week as part of its third stop in the Army’s Pacific Pathways rotation brought its own aviation assets to the venerable exercise for the first time.
The Japanese and US military will train with four AH-64 Apaches, four UH-60 Black Hawks and three HH-60 Pave Hawks during scenarios that include an air assault mission, along with 23 Strykers, US officials said.
In past years, the bilateral Orient Shield exercise has employed the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s helicopters and US Black Hawks stationed at Camp Zama, Japan, according to Lt. Col. Kevin Toner, chief of public affairs for US Army Japan.
The exercise will employ E-model Apaches, which were certified to make deck landings during the RIMPAC exercise, which preceded Pacific Pathways. Four of the eight E-models used in RIMPAC progressed to Pacific Pathways.
When Orient Shield begins Oct. 27, about 1,300 Japanese troops from the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Armor Division, Northern Army, will join 850 US soldiers, most from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The US troops began arriving early September from Indonesia and Malaysia, where they participated in exercises Garuda Shield and Keris Strike as part of Pacific Pathways.
This year the Orient Shield exercise, which dates to 1982, will include light infantry, squad-level training to include urban assault and building clearing, Toner said.
The Stryker unit is merely the first of what the Army hopes to be more frequent Pacific Pathways deployments, which would ramp up to three separate brigades running three separate rotations in fiscal 2015 and each year after if the funding holds up.