Monday, November 24, 2008

GW Strike Group Participates in Bilateral Exercise with Japanese Counterparts

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) steams in formation with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships during the bilateral exercise ANNUALEX. ANNUALEX is a yearly exercise with the U.S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force to improve working relations between the two navies. (U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ty Swartz/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Barry Hirayama, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group completed its first bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF and JASDF) Nov. 19.

ANNUALEX 20G is the 20th annual exercise of its kind but the first for USS George Washington (CVN 73), which relieved USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) this summer as the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

The exercise is designed to enhance the capabilities of both naval forces, for continued success in coordinated and bilateral operations in the defense of Japan.

"ANNUALEX was an outstanding introduction for GW to the top-level professionalism and seamanship of the JMSDF," said GW's Operations Officer, Cmdr. Anthony Calandra. "High-quality, mutually-beneficial training resulted from our collaboration throughout the exercise."

ANNUALEX focuses on enhancing military-to-military relationships, improving command and control, and conducting coordinated air, undersea and surface warfare.

"We are planning together, presenting the plan together, and we are standing watches together," said Lt. Roger Leech, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 air operations officer.

"Being in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility, knowing we can turn to our allies to help them or for them to help us, is reassuring. We know we can work together and accomplish the mission," said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) C. Jones, a DESRON 15 Sailor who stood watches side-by-side with her Japanese counterparts.

While JMSDF Sailors integrated into many command and control spaces, Jones has not noticed any difficulties when it comes to effective communication.

"They add their expertise in many areas and their Japanese language skills help a lot when coordinating with other Japanese ships operating with the U.S. Navy," said Jones.

"It is very good to have the perspective they bring and how we can learn from each other during this exercise," added Leech. "Our [JMSDF] counterparts' planning has been very thorough."

U.S. Navy units taking part in the exercise with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force units included elements operating from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Fleet Activities Sasebo and Naval Air Facility Atsugi.