Joint U.S.-Japanese Operation Rising Thunder is underway

Exercise Operation Rising Thunder is currently underway at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. with U.S. Army and Japanese military participation. The Japanese ground Self Defense Force is training with U.S. I Corps soldiers as part of a three-week exercise to practice and develop joint war-fighting functions. The opening ceremony took place Sept. 4 at the Yakima Training Center, Wash., marking the 20th anniversary of the joint training operation.

"We're building partner capacities with our allies," said Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division. "It allows us to put our focus on the Pacific."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that expanding joint exercises with Asian allies is critical to the Asia Pacific pivot.

The Japanese military typically sends hundreds of soldiers to practice large-scale maneuvers they cannot perform at home locations. This year, 800 Lewis-McChord soldiers joined 500 Japanese soldiers, an increase of 500 Americans from 2012.

"We've both been able to share and show shortcuts and ways to move... and it's interesting to see the difference between the two," said 1st Lt. Christopher Goodwin in an interview with The Pentagon Channel.

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