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PACIFIC OCEAN – Japanese Maj. Gen. Katsuki Takata, deputy chief of staff for operations, Western Army, wraps up his visit to amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), Feb. 12, during exercise Iron Fist 2012. This bilateral training exercise between U.S. Marines and the JGSDF is designed to increase interoperability and amphibious capabilities. International relationships strengthen U.S. Third and Seventh Fleets' ability to respond to crises and the U.S. and its allies and partners.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist (SW/EXW) Jeremy L. Wood/Released)
Peleliu Departs for US-Japan Exercise Iron Fist 2012 
PACIFIC OCEAN, At Sea – Sailors, Marines, and members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) Feb. 7th for Exercise Iron Fist 2012’s live amphibious phase.

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined Amphibious Squadron THREE and Peleliu to set up the exercise. Peleliu will perform as command ship and provide amphibious support for Iron Fist, an exercise designed to leverage Navy and Marine Corps amphibious capabilities and advance interoperability and cooperation with Japanese forces. This is the seventh iteration of this exercise to be held off the coast of Southern California and also includes participation from USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).

"This level of training at sea and shore helps build solid partnerships and is essential to the US-Japan team’s ability to operate effectively together in the amphibious environment," said Capt. James T. Cox, Peleliu's commanding officer.

The US Pacific Command and Commander, Marine Force – Pacific directed bilateral exercise increases theater security cooperation and amphibious-centric defenses. Southern California contains amphibious training areas which support ship-to-shore movement which can be difficult to do in Japan.

Joint and combined interagency and international relationships strengthen mission skills that Navy, Marine Corps and JGSDF teams would be likely to encounter in the Pacific theater, which includes U.S. Third and Seventh Fleets. Service members will conduct individual and combined training, as well as incorporate combined arms live-fire and maneuver training aboard Marine Corps Camp Pendleton, USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and San Clemente Island.

"Exercises like Iron Fist reinforce our commitment with the Japanese forces and provide a unique and mutually beneficial training opportunity for both Peleliu Sailors and the Marines of the 15th MEU," said Cox.

Iron Fist 2012 allows both nations to develop sea-based assault capability and share expeditionary knowledge within a strategic partnership. This increases the ability to respond to crises and protect collective maritime interests of the United States and its allies and partners within U.S. Third Fleet and other areas of operation.

Join the conversation about Iron Fist 2012 on social media using #IRONFIST12.
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