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U.S. Marines, Japanese forces participate in Forest Light 17

By Ryan Maass
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U.S. Marines and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces take part in casualty evacuation drills during joint military exercise "Forest Light 17" at Camp Soumagahara in Gunma prefecture, Japan, on March 10, 2017. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/17ff926d6d69b67baa03e60b1e8a6e5b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. Marines and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces take part in casualty evacuation drills during joint military exercise "Forest Light 17" at Camp Soumagahara in Gunma prefecture, Japan, on March 10, 2017. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Marines and troops from Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force conducted joint military training exercises in Okinawa during an event known as Forest Light 17.

According to the Marines, the exercise was conducted to familiarize both parties with one another's tilt-rotor aircraft as part of an effort to improve interoperability. Exercises featured training with U.S. MV-22B Osprey and Japanese CH-47 Chinook aircraft.

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"The value of this training is that it reinforces that we truly are stronger together," Lt. Col. Ryan M. Hoyle said in a press release.

In addition to aircraft training, the two forces also conducted casualty evacuation drills using Osprey aircraft. According to the Marines, the exercises have both combat and natural disaster implications.

Forest Light 17 involved roughly 600 Marines and sailors assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force in addition to six MV-22B Ospreys. Officials say Marines will conduct additional training events with Japanese forces in the future in an effort to close gaps in training and combat readiness.

"I'm excited to see the training and observe the stronger team at the end," Hoyle added.

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