Sailors assigned to the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, celebrated the completion of the 18th iteration of Exercise Iron Fist, alongside members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), in a ceremony held on the flight deck of the JMSDF Ōsumi -class tank landing ship JS Kunisaki (LST-4003), March 17.

Exercise Iron Fist is an annual bilateral exercise designed to increase interoperability and strengthen the relationships between the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, the JGSDF, and the JMSDF.

“Exercises like this present a great opportunity for growth and integration,” said Capt. Kelly Fletcher, Commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. “Iron Fist was a success because over the course of the exercise, we have shared best practices, learned from one another, and sharpened our collective swords to improve our ability to conduct combined amphibious operations.”

Over the course of the exercise, the America ARG coordinated and executed operations with both the JGSDF and JMSDF to include formation sailing with JMSDF ships, visit, board, search, and seizure exercises, and flight operations with JGSDF aircraft.

The America ARG, comprised of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), under the operational command of PHIBRON 11, are underway conducting routine integrated operations in U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.