Story By: Sgt. 1st Class Jerimiah Richardson
Since 1982 the United States has participated in a joint bi-lateral exercise with Japan and other nations around the Pacific Region called Yama Sakura. This year the 9th Mission Support Command (9th MSC) participated in Yama Sakura 83, joining over 5,700 other servicemembers from all U.S. Department of Defense components and the Japanese Self Defense Force in the most complex command post exercise in the world.
The 9th MSC had units from the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital (USAH), 100th Battalion 442nd Infantry Regiment (100/442), 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade and United States Army Pacific-Support Unit (USARPAC-SU) who all provided real-world unique capabilities that were critical to the mission’s overall success.
“The mission for the 9th MSC’s Japan Detachment as it relates to Exercise Yama Sakura was, first and foremost, to act as enablers to the overall exercise and ensure U.S. Army Japan and USARPAC had the right people, in the right places, with the right skills, at the right times.”, said Maj. Caleb Dexter, S3 of U.S. Army Pacific Support Unit Forward Japan.
The various 9th MSC units involved participated where they were needed most. The 303rd MEB executed a brigade response cell in conjunction with the 7th Infantry Division and the Japan Self-Defense Force in Camp Kengun, Japan. In addition, the 303rd provided a multifunctional protection brigade showing their instrumental value to the exercise.
“We conducted support area operations, providing additional security and defense for other units in the support area and enhancing the freedom of action for the 7th ID.”, said Lt. Col Neiland Cota, 303rd MEB Brigade Operations Officer. “In a real-world scenario this would enable the command post to operate unhindered and free up other active-duty units to be used in critical areas of operations.”
The 303rd MEB’s success at YS 83 wasn’t the only 9th MSC highlight of the exercise. The USARPAC-SU element brought its own distinctive abilities to the exercise. Their local Japanese ties coupled with their army skillsets were representative of the connections Army Reserve units have with host nations which augment the capabilities of U.S. Forces.
“We accomplished this (mission) by leveraging the broad array of skillsets our Soldiers bring – from deep expertise in logistics, personnel management, in the Japanese language, and so forth, our Soldiers were instrumental in ensuring the training audience achieved its training objectives,” added Dexter.
This continued success of Yama Sakura greatly enhances the interoperability between 9th MSC units, other U.S. and allied forces who often have different methods to accomplish shared objectives.
Sometimes Army Reserve units are used to supplement the standard needs of forces involved in large-scale operations. This was the case for the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital whose duties were to both familiarize themselves with the Japanese Defense Force hospital and medic procedures as well as run sick call activities, triage patient care and COVID testing for the joint-forces at Camp Asaka, Camp Chitose and Camp Kengun in Japan.
Other 9th MSC units who also contributed to Yama Sakura 83 were the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade. The 100th BN used recon and mission planning to decide when and where to deploy soldiers in virtual scenarios that would have applicability in real world situations. Additionally, the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade practiced integrating with partner nation embassies to better assist local and regional authorities if needed for future operations. These missions collectively contributed to the warfighting capability of U.S. Army Pacific and their partners.
While it’s true that Yama Sakura is focused on building joint-interoperability between the U.S. Forces and the Japanese Self Defense Forces, the building of relationships between the two nations is just as critical. The interpersonal connections made in the exercise bridge barriers of culture and language. Friendships and partnerships are built and strengthened.
For over 35 years the 9th MSC has been involved in cultivating understanding and cooperation toward accomplishing the mutual goals of our nations. The strengthening of U.S. partners and allies continues to be the goal of the 9th Mission Support command long into the future as it brings the best the Army Reserve has to offer to the table.
The 9th MSC is a U.S. Army Reserve Command under the operational control of U.S. Army Pacific Command that provides trained and ready forces to overseas contingency operations. The 9th MSC is the most geographically dispersed Army Reserve command in the Army Reserve, operating across seven time zones, nine Army Reserve facilities spread throughout three countries, three states, and three American territories.