Rising Thunder

<p>Rising Thunder</p>

Rising Thunder

Over 500 soldiers from Japan and several hundred more from Joint Base Lewis-McChord stand in ranks, celebrating the beginning of another season of training.

For the next month, these soldiers will take part in an annual training exercise, codenamed "Rising Thunder."

"That will include artillery support and some aviation integrated into it, so it'll be fairly complex," said Lt. Col. Douglas Walter.

It's an exercise the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force takes part in every year; it's also the first time for many of the U.S. Army soldiers there.

"This training center here in Yakima gives us the elements, it gives us the environment, it gives us the opportunity here to really do some very significant and complex training here as allied forces," said Maj. General Stephen Lanza.

"In Japan there are very small firing ranges, and we can't often conduct live-fire trainings," said Japanese General Omori Takeyoshi, "But using the Yakima Training Center, we can maximize our live-fire capacity."

The training center has opened its grounds for Japanese soldiers for 20 years; it not only gives them the chance to improve their training, but develop relationships with other soldiers like them.

"There's a compatibility, there's a partnership, there's a professionalism that exists between soldiers of all nations," said Maj. General Lanza, "So what you're seeing back here is while our cultures may be different, and while our languages may be different the similarities between soldiers is the same."

"An opportunity to get that kind of training where you're interacting with a foreign country, learning how they do things, understanding cultural differences, and how you deal with those cultural differences is an incredible opportunity; because we're doing it here on the ground with an actual allied army," said Lt. Col. Walter