Exercise Dawn Blitz - 2013; Projecting Power in the Pacific Rim
Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013 was a joint amphibious assault exercise held in June 2013 under the command of Brig Gen John Broadmeadow, USMC, where 5,000 U.S. Marines, Japanese Self-Defense Forces, Canadian, and New Zealand troops combined for joint-training exercises, live-fire, and joint command-post-exercises. It was held at the US Marine bases at Camp Pendleton, CA, neighboring Marine Air-Ground Combat Training Center at 29 Palms, CA, and offshore at San Clemente Island. The addition of Japanese, Canadian, and New Zealand troops and command units to the Marine-Navy exercise enabled the visiting units to observe and copy American amphibious assault doctrine.
US Marine Corps & Amphibious Operations
Amphibious operations range from storming beaches (Tarawa), conducting Humanitarian Assistance - Disaster Relief (HA-DR) in Haiti, or evacuating American citizens from a combat zone (2006 Beirut, as the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out). These operations are typically conducted by a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) that consists of a three ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). This Marine-Navy team is the acknowledged world leader at being ready to handle any sort of peacetime, wartime, or natural disaster-related mission. Dawn Blitz 2013 was an exercise in which 1st Marine Division and their Navy counterpart Expeditionary Strike Group-3 continued their real-world training in a variety of scenarios. The lead Marine unit in the exercise was 2nd Bn, 1st Marines, although 13th MEU used it to complete their pre-deployment training.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces
The Japanese sent 800 soldiers from Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) Western Army infantry Regiment (Wair), led by MajGen Shin Nozawa, three ships from their Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JDSF) Escort Flotilla-2, under Rear Admiral Hideki Yuasa, and a contingent from their Air Force. This was the first time their three service branches trained together outside Japan. An island nation, Japan feels their security is threatened by the growing and powerful Chinese Navy, who reguarly threatens and interferes with Japanese, S. Korean, and Philippine shipping, as well as laying claims to the S. China Sea and it's energy-rich islands. Their goal was to learn to work together in a maritime environment, in a variety of challenging situations.
The Canadian and New Zealand Forces
LtGen Peter Devlin led the Canadian contingent; 200 soldiers of Alpha Company, 2n Bn, Royal 22nd Regiment, from Quebec. Most had experience fighting in Afghanistan, but spent time practicing infantry-tank integration tactics with USMC's 1st Tank Bn.
Air Vice Marshall Kevin Short was the Commander of Joint Amphibious Task Group, New Zealand has a small but mobile defense force, and Dawn Blitz was the first time they'd practiced integrating tanks and infantry in a village-clearing scenario.
Dawn Blitz 2013 provided the participating militaries the ability to learn each other's capabilities and tactics. With the Pacific Rim being such an increasingly important part of the world's economies, Dawn Blitz 2013 enabled the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to how Marine-Navy maritime integration abilities are key to successful amphibious operations, while also allowing the Canadian and New Zealand forces to see where their forces fit into the scheme of a Pacific Rim military presence.