The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) will participate alongside Japan and the United States for the first time in Exercise Yama Sakura (mountain cherry blossom in Japanese) to be held this December.
Australia is the first country to be invited for the exercise series, which was hitherto reserved for the Japanese and US militaries; though it has enjoyed observer status for more than a decade.
Exercise Yama Sakura 85 will be the largest in the exercise series, involving around 230 members of the Australian Army, 1,500 US Army personnel and 4,500 Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) personnel.
Commander of Headquarters 1st (Australian) Division Major General Scott Winter said the ADF’s involvement in the exercise demonstrated Australia's commitment to an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. He added that it also provided the Australian Army with an opportunity to practise large-scale combat operations while learning from their Japanese and US counterparts.
Thirty-seven Australian Army personnel took part in a week-long trilateral planning session in early October at Camp Higashi Chitose for Yama Sakura, joining members of the Northern Army from the JGSDF and 11 Airborne Division from the US Army.
The large-scale tri-lateral exercise will commence in December with personnel from Headquarters 1st (Australian) Division practising their planning skills and interoperability with the US Army and the JGSDF.