US-Japan amphibious drill Iron Fist concludes off California

Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicles (LCAC) conduct amphibious operations during Iron Fist 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Marines and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force concluded exercise Iron Fist 2018 off the coast of Southern California, February 7.

US Navy’s Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) Rushmore provided both an amphibious and air platform for US Marine Corps and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force members to train and conduct operations.

The amphibious phase of Iron Fist 2018 showed that Rushmore was able to act as a single focal point for surface, air and amphibious operations, while nearly 300 US Marines and Japanese personnel joined more than 330 sailors aboard.

During the five-day exercise, Rushmore launched six amphibious assault vehicles numerous times from its well deck and conducted over 20 flight deck landings.

“Iron Fist is an excellent opportunity to not only show the [Japan Ground Self-Defense Force] the importance of integrating landing forces with amphibious warfare, but also to continue sharpening our ship’s own routine training to maintain the highest level of operational readiness,” said Cmdr. John Ryan, commanding officer of Rushmore. “It provided the crew with a unique opportunity to work with other nations’ armed forces, a crucial skill as the ship prepares for deployment.”

The culminating training event was a scenario-based amphibious assault launched from Rushmore in coordination with an inland helicopter assault. The exercise wrapped up with the components of 11th MEU and Japanese Maritime and Ground Self-Defense Forces departing the ship and returning to Camp Pendleton.

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