Exercise Keen Sword Cuts Out Danger With Enhanced Training
For one week, they were here. Rolling down the street like miniature tanks looking, and scouting for potential threats from both out and inside the gate. These massive personnel carriers are not native to this part of the Kanto Plain but seemed to mesh with the locals all the same during Keen Sword 2015.
The exercise ran from Nov. 13 through Nov. 18 and though short in time spent, there was no lacking in the training, preparation and execution of roughly 25 drills spanning suspicious packages, unidentified persons and active shooter evolutions.
During the exercise, the 13th Company of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force partnered with the Sailors of Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Naval Security Force for the annual Keen Sword (KS) 2015 exercise.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you how long we’ve been participating in these drills,” said Security Officer Lt. Griffin Lotson. “But, what I can tell you is that each year our teams are getting better, stronger and out-perform my expectations.”
KS15 is a large and complex joint/bilateral field training exercise involving U.S. military and JSDF and is designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. forces and JSDF.
“The whole purpose of the exercise is to combine all four branches of both our armed forces together to increase interoperability and enhance our combat readiness by working together in an exercise environment that is challenging and allows us to improve our processes between one another,” said NAF Atsugi Commanding Officer Capt. John Bushey. “Japan is one of our strongest allies, and the fact that we are able to work together and coordinate quickly with similar procedures and processes, makes us better to respond together in a crisis situation.”
This training between the U.S. and Japan has been a routine, recurring event for many years. The purpose and value of this training has always been to facilitate the interaction and improve the interoperability of U.S. forces and JSDF.
“This exercise gives us the ability practice working together and that goes a long way toward helping us get better at what we do,” said Bushey. “At the end of the exercise, we are able to put together a number of lessons learned that will improve future exercises and enable us to work better together in a real world environment.”
Approximately 11,000 U.S. personnel participated in KS15 which was the 11th iteration of the exercise. Keen Sword is biennial and conducted on the even years with Annual Exercise (AnnualEx) on the odd years.
“JMSDF are very capable mariners and they have very capable platforms,” said Bushey. “We do bilateral training on a regular basis with our JMSDF partners, but to do it on this scale, once a year, bring us together in a manner that will help us understand the bigger picture of battle space management. It is important that we continue these exercises, dialogues and opportunities together.”