Japan, US conclude amphibious drill Keen Sword 17

Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Akizuki-class destroyer (DD-115), middle, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), furthest, steam in formation during exercise Keen Sword 17. Photo: US Navy

Sailors from U.S. and Japan concluded the joint amphibious  field training exercise Keen Sword 17.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units joined forces with Japanese Self Defense Force units to conduct a range of amphibious missions between November 1-11.

Surface ships took part in live-fire exercises and other maritime missions to simulate protecting the amphibious task force and providing supporting fires to ground forces ashore.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Rear Adm. Tatsuya Fukuda, commander, Escort Flotilla Four, and six JMSDF officers embarked USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for the duration of the exercise.

The Japanese officers worked with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 on the watchfloor aboard Ronald Reagan to take charge of the 10 U.S. and JMSDF surface forces participating in the exercise.

“We came aboard Reagan for two reasons,” said Rear Adm. Fukuda. “To coordinate and seamlessly liaison with DESRON 15 for KS17 events, and, more importantly, to learn firsthand the latest maritime tactics and procedures. The United States always has the most cutting edge technology and command and control structures; it is good to learn from our ally.”

Lt. Naoki Saito, a JMSDF intelligence and communications officer, said, “Face to face is the easiest way for mutual understanding between our forces. Email and other electronic communication can lead to misunderstandings and are not as good for operations. I am glad to be here to work through scenarios together.”

The embarked JMSDF staff members stood watch alongside DESRON 15 officers for the duration of the exercise.

Squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 have been participating in multiple large force employment exercises with U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) units during Keen Sword 2017. The exercises required a large amount of planning and coordination on the ground at Kadena, Air Force Base, at sea aboard Ronald Reagan, and in the air in the local operating areas.

Most of the missions have involved CVW-5 F/A-18 Super Hornets and E-2C Hawkeyes operating with USAF F-15 Eagles and JASDF Mitsubishi F-15s.

“Keen Sword is an important exercise to strengthen the ties between the JMSDF and U.S. Navy. Stronger ties directly contribute to our ability to work together and continue our important partnership,” said Fukuda.

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