U.S. Marines with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, integrated with Japanese, French and Australian military units in recent training events across the Okinawa littoral and mainland Japan area during the months of April and May of 2021.
5th ANGLICO specializes in the capability to plan, coordinate, employ and conduct terminal control of fires in support of joint, allied and coalition forces. 5th ANGLICO also focuses specifically on command and control in support of expeditionary advanced base operations and has been able to share this vital knowledge with key allies and partners recently through unique training.
“We’re designed to attach directly with our joint, allied or coalition forces,” Said U.S. Marine Major Nicholas Webster, 1st Brigade platoon commander with 5th ANGLICO.
“We provide a link between those forces and the Marine Corps’ Marine Air Ground Task Force Commander and provide supporting arms to our allies.” Major Nicholas Webster, 1st Brigade platoon commander with 5th ANGLICO.
Exercise Jeanne D’ Arc 21, a week-long training exercise, was the most recent event to take place. ARC 21 focused on military-to-military exchanges of experiences, tactics and best practices that would increase all participants’ military capabilities and improve the lethality in the Indo-Pacific region. It allowed the U.S. and Japanese to continue building upon their long-standing relationship but also allowed for stronger bonds to form with French and Australian counterparts.
ARC 21 was a continuation of allied-focused training that 5th ANGLICO has participated in throughout the month of April. In past training events Japanese Self-Defense Force units had the opportunity to observe ANGLICO’s training, some of which consisted of fire support, jungle operations and basic battle tactics.
During ARC 21, 5th ANGLICO worked alongside partner and ally nation soldiers on providing surface-to-surface fires and digitally aided close air support. By using the Target Handoff System Version 2 and the Link 16 radio, they were able to communicate with multiple aircraft. These aircraft included a Japanese Mitsubishi UH-60JA helicopter with JGSDF, AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 and two F/A-18 Hornets with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232.
“We bring a sufficient amount of fire assets to the battlefield, in terms of surface-to-surface and air-to-surface fires,” said U.S. Marine Sergeant Jonathan Fico, a fire support Marine with 5th ANGLICO. “We have the capability to bring these assets to the joint world to work together with foreign nations and merge what the two forces bring to the fight.”
This iteration of ARC-21 was the first time each of these four countries trained together in this setting, using ANGLICO Marines as the liaison to coordinate simulated fire support between ship and shore.
“We don't get the opportunity to train with all four of these nations together very often,” said U.S. Marine Captain Thomas Delaney, firepower control team lead with 5th ANGLICO. “The fact that we have the JSDF, Australian Navy, French Foreign Legion, and U.S. Naval ships all in one spot to conduct an amphibious operation is very rare. We look forward to any opportunity that gives us a chance to train together.”
Training multi-laterally increases the integration and interoperability between forces and enables the U.S. to respond across a wide range of military operations when called upon by their allies.
“Training with the Japanese and getting to know them on a personal level is key in building cohesion,” said Webster. “Just as we would with our own Marines, building cohesion with our partners is even more essential if we were to fight together.”
Exercises similar to the training in April and ARC-21 allow 5th ANGLICO to support III MEF’s role through experimentation with innovative, operational concepts with partners and allies. These trainings play an essential role in III MEF’s ability to maintain readiness as a force that could be called upon at a moment’s notice.
“Any time we have an opportunity to train with our allies, it's fantastic,” said Delaney. “Hopefully in the future, we can do more exercises like ARC-21, incorporating Japanese, Australian and French troops. We learn from them and they learn from us so that we all get better together.”
Future training between 5th ANGLICO, partners and allies, specifically the JSDF, will seek to broaden military capabilities to help ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.