U.S. soldiers and Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces fired Javelin missiles during the opening of Orient Shield 22, a bilateral field training exercise taking place across the island nation.
Soldiers from the 11th Airborne Division out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, started the opening day of exercises with training on Javelins, a tweet from U.S. Army Japan said. Troops from JSDGF West Army joined in the live-fire training.
Stars and Stripes was first to report on the historic firing of the Javelin missile in Japan by U.S. troops. Officials from U.S. Army Japan did not respond to requests for comment sent by Army Times on Tuesday asking for further details.
The Javelin has garnered attention due to its effective use by Ukraine’s military, which has wielded the precision weapon system to attack Russian tanks and other armored vehicles. Since the war broke out, the U.S. has sent more than 5,000 Javelins to Ukraine.
“Japan is the anchoring and frontline ally with the United States in the Indo-Pacific,” commanding general of U.S. Army Japan, Maj. Gen. J.B. Vowell, said in his opening remarks. “Our partnership serves as the key to integrated deterrence and regional security here on the knife’s edge of freedom. I am looking forward to building on our training and readiness and improving our friendship during this exercise.”
During the exercises, which began Aug. 28, various Army units will conduct drills that work to “enhance interoperability” between allied forces and strengthen collective deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, according to a statement from U.S. Army Japan.
The lessons from Ukraine, however, have shed light on smaller countries defending against their larger, aggressive neighbors.
With increased tension between China and Taiwan in recent weeks, some have pointed to the effective use of Javelins by Ukraine and how Taiwan might take notice as the self-governed island increases its own defensive posture. Taiwanese forces even flexed the weapon system in April, according to the South China Morning Post.
“For over seventy years, Japanese and Americans have enjoyed a close friendship and a lasting peace,” Vowell said. “We have come to annually for this exercise not only to ensure that our bond of peace and friendship continues to grow, but also to demonstrate the ironclad commitment of the of U.S.-Japan alliance by performing realistic bilateral training focusing on the defense of Japan, to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.