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British Army soldiers embed with Japanese army for first time

A Gurkha from 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles with an L85A3 5.56 mm assault rifle (right) next to a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Airborne Brigade paratrooper with a Howa Type 20 5.56 mm assault rifle (left) during Exercise ‘Vigilant Isles' in Somagahara Camp, Japan, on 15 November. (Crown copyright)

British Army soldiers embedded with the Japan Ground Self‐Defense Force (JGSDF) for the first time during Exercise ‘Vigilant Isles 23' in Japan from 15 to 26 November.

The Japanese embassy in London said on its website on 26 November that the exercise was the first time that the Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement was applied. Around 400 JGSDF personnel and nearly 200 British Army soldiers were involved – the largest number of participants in a ‘Vigilant Isles' exercise. They conducted multiple training exercises such as infiltration and reconnaissance, combat shooting, and joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) to develop their tactical skills and deepen their mutual understanding, the embassy said.

Japanese participants in the exercise included members of the JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade's 3rd Infantry Battalion. British Army participation involved 173 personnel deploying from Brunei and the UK including 128 personnel from 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR) from Brunei; 20 from 16 Air Assault Brigade's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Group from Colchester; 16 personnel from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland (3SCOTS) based in Inverness, which operated as part of the 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB); and one language specialist.

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