Friday, December 03, 2010

Keen Sword exercise sharpens US-Japan alliance

by Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson, 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- About 10,500 U.S. servicemembers and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 3 through 10, on military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the water surrounding Japan.

Keen Sword is a regularly-scheduled exercise designed to strengthen U.S. and Japanese military interoperability and meet mutual defense objectives, according to exercise planners.

"Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. alliance as an 'alliance of equals,'" said Maj. William Vause, the chief of operational plans, training and exercises. "It is the largest bilateral exercise between the United States and Japan military forces. (The exercise) will better enhance both of our countries' readiness to respond to varied crisis situations."

Training events include integrated air and missile defense, base security and force protection, close-air support, live-fire training, maritime defense and interdiction, and search and rescue.

"Guardian Angel rescue specialists delivering combat medical care under extreme duress, have very unique ground focused rescue techniques," said Capt. Robert L. Wilson, the 31st Rescue Squadron team commander. "Throughout Keen Sword, the 31st (RS) and 33rd (RS) will be employing and sharing techniques with our JSDF partners. Focused mission sets will be maritime rescue, high-angle procedures, and extrication from vehicles."

Keen Sword is also designed to allow Japanese and U.S. servicemembers to practice and evaluate their coordination procedures and interoperability requirements.

"We hope to increase both U.S. and Japanese understanding of our mutual capabilities and rescue limitations," Captain Wilson said. "An exercise like Keen Sword is invaluable for presenting opportunities to establish closer host nation friendships and practicing interoperability for the future."

Keen Sword is not designed to respond to, or mirror, any actual world events, nor is it directed at any nation. This training between Japan and the U.S. has been a routine, recurring event for many years, Major Vause said.

"The goal of Keen Sword is to increase and improve our bilateral relationship to further enhance the Japan and U.S. alliance, and to provide a realistic training environment that allows JSDF and U.S. forces to respond to a wide range of situations," he said.