US, Japan forces work together during Keen Sword

By Senior Airman Delano Scott 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Members from the Japan Self-Defense Forces and U.S. Forces, Japan, came together for Keen Sword 2017 at Yokota Air Base from Oct. 30 – Nov. 11.

KS17 involved U.S. forces and the JSDF from all components of both militaries, training to conduct bilateral operations in support of the defense of Japan.

“Operational readiness is a guiding principle for U.S. Forces, Japan,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, the U.S. Forces, Japan and Fifth Air Force commander. “KS17 is an opportunity to increase readiness by providing a realistic training environment for U.S. forces and the JSDF to practice, evaluate and improve our coordination procedures and interoperability requirements.”

At Yokota, U.S. and JSDF military members participated in variety of training exercises, each designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability within the framework of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

“During the first week of Keen Sword, we held a pair of subject matter expert exchange events (SMEE) between the 374th Operations Group and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, 1st Airborne Brigade, from Camp Narashino in Chiba prefecture,” said Capt. James McKinney, a 374th OG C-130 Hercules instructor navigator. “The events focused around an exchange of professional knowledge between airborne-qualified soldiers and jumpmasters.”

This was the first time the U.S. Air Force and JGSDF jumpmasters at Camp Narashino participate in bilateral SMEE.

The second week of KS17 focused on preparing and airdropping container delivery system bundles. In a collaborative effort, the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight offered up space in their hanger to accommodate JGSDF personnel to build their CDS bundles. 

“After the bundles were built and our Joint Airdrop Inspectors made their final safety inspections, we airdropped the bundles on Nov. 10.”

During the exercise, U.S. and JASDF military members also participated in C-17 Globemaster III tie-down training and UH-1N Huey night flight familiarization.

McKinney said that exercises such as KS17 provide an indispensable real-world training environment for enhancing mutual understanding of each country's tactics, communication protocols, procedures and general interoperability.

“This exercise has given us confidence that in whatever contingency, we will be able to use the maximum amount of resources available to respond,” McKinney said. “With the relationships we built at Keen Sword, we can, in the future, work together more effectively. Keen Sword offered us flexibility in how to respond to contingencies while also giving us the proof that we can all cooperate to accomplish the same mission.”


Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Air Force website.