In an operation reminiscent of the Second World War’s island hopping, the U.S. Marine Corps conducted an amphibious and air assault against Iejima Island, a small Pacific island off the coast of Japan, seizing its airfield and strategic points in a rapid and aggressive operation.

More specifically, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Air Commandos from the 353rd Special Operations Group, and Green Berets from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, seized the island in an exercise that took place between March 11 and 14.

The operation is clear notification to China’s regional aspirations, and more specifically to its strategy in the South China Sea. That’s where the Chinese military has been manufacturing artificial islands in an attempt to create a defensive shield around the Chinese mainland and protect it from the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers.

During the exercise, Force Reconnaissance Marines conducted a free-fall parachute jump to prove close target reconnaissance capabilities to the Marine commander. Afterwards, Marines air-assaulted the island’s airfield with CV-22 Osprey helicopters. The Air Commandos were then able to coordinate air resupply to ensure the force’s sustainability.