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The 16th Active Shield exercise, part of a series of guard and protection training events with the Japan Self-Defense Force, starts today and runs through Friday at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

The exercises, first held in November 2003, strengthen cooperation between U.S. and Japanese forces in the Iwakuni-Hiroshima region and prepare Japanese forces to guard U.S. facilities if needed, according to base spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton.

The training will not assume “a specific country being an enemy,” he said.

Desktop training at command posts will be held the first part of the week, and combined U.S.-Japanese training is planned for Wednesday through Friday.

“None of the training included should affect or impact residents and their lives in neighboring communities,” Upton said.

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force participants include about 100 soldiers from the 46th Infantry Regiment at Camp Kaitaichi, according to a JGSDF news release.

Upton said about 90 Marines from Iwakuni will take part.

Training focuses on basic guard and protection aspects, he said, including surveillance of significant facilities and areas from observation posts, patrolling the air station’s facilities and areas by vehicle or on foot and searching for suspicious individuals and items.

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