Keen Sword Exercise Sharpens US-Japan Alliance

About 10,500 U.S. service members and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 3-10, on military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan.

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The USS George Washington prepares to participate in Keen Sword 2011 off the coast of Japan, Dec. 1.

Kadena AFB, Japan (Vocus) December 3, 2010

By Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson

About 10,500 U.S. service members and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 3-10, on military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan.

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

“Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. alliance as an ‘alliance of equals,’” said Maj. William Vause, 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, has very unique ground focused rescue techniques,” said Capt. Robert L. Wilson, team commander 31st Rescue Squadron. “Throughout Keen Sword the 31st and 33rd 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 Japan and the United States 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,” said Captain Wilson. “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 United States has been a routine, recurring event for many years.

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

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