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The U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted one of the joint training events this week in the Guard and Protect slate of exercises.

The drill, which began Tuesday, focused for three days on guarding U.S. military facilities in Hiroshima Prefecture, U.S. Army Japan spokesman Maj. John Amberg said Thursday afternoon.

The events involved patrols and emergency response drills, a JGSDF Middle Army spokesman told Stars and Stripes.

“When we live and work together, it’s beneficial to train together in this way. The Guard and Protect … these are nothing new. During these ongoing exercises, when we’re working together, it reinforces the strength of our alliance,” Amberg said.

About 70 servicemembers from the JGSDF 41st Infantry Division of 13th Brigade, plus about 20 U.S. Army soldiers, participated in the exercise at Hiro Depot, Akizuki Depot and Kure, the JGSDF spokesman said. The Japanese personnel mobilized from JGSDF’s 13th Brigade, based in Kaita in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The U.S. Army’s 83rd Ordnance Battalion operates from the three Hiroshima Prefecture locations, according to Amberg.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces Law, revised after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, allows JSDF troops to guard U.S. bases if the prime minister so orders after he consults with the Defense Agency chief and National Public Safety Commission chairman.

No such orders have been issued since the law was revised, the spokesman said.

In 2003, he said, the JSDF held similar training exercises without U.S. military involvement. In addition, similar joint exercises took place this year at Misawa in the northern mainland.

This is the first time such a joint exercise has been conducted in Japan’s Middle Army, the JGSDF spokesman said. “I was told that the exercise is going well,” he added.

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