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U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III., commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force visits Exercise Yama Sakura 79 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 12, 2020. YS 79 allows Marines, and their Japanese counterparts to maintain their interoperability, and readiness to respond to any crisis or contingency in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Marshall)

Photo by Cpl. Sarah Marshall

Marines from 1st MAW participate in Yama Sakura 79

16 Dec 2020 | Courtesy Story 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

OKINAWA, Japan – U.S. Marines from Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing participated in Yama Sakura 79 with Marines from 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade as well as soldiers from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, Dec. 9 to Dec. 14, 2020 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.

U.S. Marines from MACG-18 provided critical command and control capabilities to 3D MEB and the ARDB during Yama Sakura 79. Coming from different military occupational specialties and squadrons, they teamed up for the duration of the exercise establishing the Aviation Coordination Cell.

On a day to day basis, the AvCC managed a multilateral airspace and monitored both joint and organic aviation assets. The cell must understand the targeting process in order to work with the fires cell to interdict enemy forces and allocate assets to prosecute targets of opportunity. Running the AvCC requires a complete understanding of both the air and ground scheme of maneuver as well as Marine Corps and Naval Aviation doctrine in order to control and coordinate the air fight at the MEB level and accomplish the overall mission.

“The Air Command and Control specialty is a key enabler to our role as a stand-in force in the Indo-Pacific. The Marines of the Control Group sustain a high state of readiness and are adaptable to integrating with the Joint Force and our Japanese partners,” said Lt. Col. Joseph S. McAlarnen, 3D MEB Air Officer. “Exercises like Yama Sakura ensure that we are prepared to project aviation combat power through Expeditionary Advanced Based and Amphibious Operations.”

Yama Sakura 79 is an annual command post exercise that focuses on improving the interoperability between JGSDF and U.S. Forces. Beginning in 1982, Yama Sakura has provided the opportunity for both forces to continually work together ensuring that they can rapidly react to counter aggression against Japan and other allies and partners. Trainings like these are essential to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

This year, 3D MEB and the ARDB play a part in the larger U.S. Army First Corps and JGSDF’s Western Army exercise events. Marines from other III Marine Expeditionary Force major subordinate commands assist the 3D MEB with non-organic structure and equipment, enabling 3D MEB to a provide rapidly-employable C2 node to conduct expeditionary advanced base operations as may be required against a near-peer adversary. 3D MEB remains a resilient, ready, and relevant force and is III MEF’s crisis contingency task force.

For questions regarding 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade participation in the exercise please email 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade Communication Strategy at




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