Keen Edge 2014 exercise tests U.S., Japanese air defense interoperability
February 5, 2014
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Feb. 5, 2014) -- The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command focused on testing its interoperability with its Japanese counterparts and other U.S. forces by participating in the exercise Keen Edge 2014, Jan. 25-31, at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
Keen Edge is a biennial joint command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between United States Forces Japan and the Japan Joint Staff.
The 94th Soldiers were on duty 24 hours a day, on Hickam Air Force Base, during the exercise to react to scenario-based simulated missile attacks that could come at any time. The 94th also forward deployed several of its Soldiers to participate in the exercise as a coordination element in theater on Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Maj. Jason Albright, operations and forward element liaison officer for the exercise, 94th AAMDC, said that since relationships are critical in building partner capacity, the forward element was on the ground in Japan to maintain and increase the level of trust that is a result of these working relationships in past exercises.
"It helps provide actionable information that is very important in refining plans and offering solutions to complex strategic problems," he said. "It aids in building partner capacity from the action officer through the general officer level."
Even though this exercise is conducted biennially with the Japanese, new challenges come to light each time due to changes in each country's tactics, techniques, and procedures.
"The challenges that we faced in training are integrating the outstanding situational awareness capabilities of our counterparts into our Pacific Army Command theater-wide understanding, and carefully apportioning assets that not only provide for the defense of Japan but also provide capabilities that contribute to theater wide and defense," explained Albright.
However, Albright said those challenges are easily overcome by good, consistent communication.
"Building partner capacity through bilateral understanding of the tactics, techniques, and procedures each country employs in defending their critical and vital assets can be achieved by participating in frequent joint and bilateral planning, working groups, and boards," he added.
Heavy emphasis was placed on the integration efforts of the 94th's forward element with various Japanese counterparts as well as the 94th's command element in Hawaii with Pacific Air Forces at the 613th Air Operations Center with the objective of obtaining "lessons learned" that can be used to enhance and improve battle plans development between the two countries and joint forces.
The success of the exercise was determined by how the refinement and adjustments of the operations enabled the U.S and Japanese commanders to make decisions.
"This exercise was successful,"Albright said. "We were able to develop and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures with our Japanese counterparts that will allow commanders to exercise full capabilities to achieve mission success in real world situations."