By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheryl Callahan, USS George Washington Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) concluded the joint bilateral exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 10.
The exercise began Dec. 3 and involved units from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, working closely with their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) counterparts at military bases throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan.
"I am exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the training we conducted with the Kaijo Jietai," said Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd, commander, Task Force 70. "For many years we've been operating together side-by-side and today, because of the inspiring efforts of our teams and all those who have gone before us, we effectively serve as one force."
More than 54,000 service members, 60 U.S. and JMSDF ships and 430 aircraft participated in this year's exercise. Keen Sword 2011 was one of the largest joint operations exercises in the world this year.
In addition to testing both nation's interoperability in the areas of integrated air and missile defense, close air support (CAS) and maritime defense and interdiction, USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted more than 30 Sailors from the JMSDF who coordinated the naval portion of the exercise from aboard the aircraft carrier. Dozens of others visited the ship throughout Keen Sword as part of an educational exchange.
"I've operated with the JMSDF for many years," said Capt. David A. Lausman, USS George Washington (CVN 73) commanding officer. "They're extremely professional sailors, and I welcome the opportunity to serve by their side. When sailing alongside the JS Ikazuchi, it was just like sailing next to a U.S. Navy ship. There was no difference."
This was the tenth time the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF have met to conduct the Keen Sword exercise which began in 1986. The timing of this exercise also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the US-Japan Cooperation and Security Treaty.
"For more than half a century, this alliance has served as the foundation for collective security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," said Cloyd. "The Kaijo Jietai and U.S. Navy are committed to ensuring that our professional relationship and close friendship continues to serve each of our nations for many years to come."
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