Japan, US forces gear up for annual mine countermeasure drill 2JA

US, Japan and Republic of Korea Navy divers prepare for a diving exercise in Japan’s Mutsu Bay during 2JA. Photo: US Navy

Warm-up exercises are already underway as Japanese and U.S. forces prepare for more complex scenarios of the annual 2JA mine countermeasure exercise (2JA MCMEX).

The annual exercise, which officially began July 19, brings together Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and U.S. Navy surface and air mine countermeasures assets, teamed with explosive ordnance disposal personnel.

“2JA is an incredible opportunity for our forces and our staff to conduct complex mine countermeasures operations with our much valued ally and friends, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force,” said Capt. Jim Miller, Commodore, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7. “This is the second year I have personally been involved in 2JA, and I can say that it is great to be working with counterparts whom we established such close bonds with.”

Several events have taken place to ensure that each unit can get maximum training value out of the exercise.

U.S. P-3C Orion and JMSDF EP-3 Elint aircraft dropped mine shapes in the exercise training area on July 20, which will aid in the realism of the training.

USS Pioneer (MCM 9), forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, has been performing unit-level tests of their mine countermeasures equipment and other communication checks to ensure they are interoperable with other participating JMSDF surface MCM assets.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 personnel have conducted several dives with JMSDF members, in order to increase proficiencies in search techniques for sea-based mines.

Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 Det 2A, operating from Misawa, Japan, has been conducting deck landing qualifications with JS Bungo (MST 464), the flagship of the MCM force. MCMRON 7 is embarked on Bungo to coordinate and execute the exercise.

As the exercise progresses, participating units will practice unit-level mine countermeasures tactics to include sweeping for mines and using sonar equipment to detect mines. Explosive ordnance disposal unit personnel conduct dive operations in support of mine countermeasures efforts.

The exercise will culminate in a combined phase in which U.S. and JMSDF will coordinate and communicate to ensure a route is clear of mines in one of the designated exercise areas.

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