By Sgt. Ricardo Branch, 8th TSC Public AffairsJanuary 20, 2009
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - U.S. Forces Japan and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force participated in a joint-bilateral exercise here Jan. 18-26.
Exercise Keen Edge allows both countries to assess their ability during simulated crisis.
"This is our opportunity to sit down with our Japanese partners and see how we can support each other in operations and challenges around (the) theater," said Capt. Kevin Sloan, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, deputy force protection officer. "This exercise places a lot of different people together. Different services of the Department of Defense and Japanese military working side-by-side to find common solutions to a problem."
During the exercise, servicemembers respond to issues such as bombings and humanitarian crisis' to test the response and coordination of each nation.
"How do we talk' How do we execute when we're trying to perform different tasks' We can practice those mechanisms in Keen Edge ... (and) make sure our methods of coordinating operations are in line with what the Japanese do," said Navy Cmdr. Ted Getschman, according to the Star's and Stripes newspaper.
Keen Edge is U.S. Forces Japan's largest, bilateral, joint-exercise and is conducted every other year to ensure both U.S. and Japanese forces remain honed in their command and control capabilities.
"There are many benefits to this exercise," said Col. Scott Zobrist, U.S. Forces Japan, director of operations. "The large scale of this operation puts Japanese and U.S. counterparts side-by-side, which helps to establish and build upon trust."
Although the exercise lasts approximately two weeks, most servicemembers agree the lessons learned here will ensure future success in numerous operations to come.
"Learning how they operate and how they interact and what is important to their decision makers from today's exercises will pave the way for future success," Maj. James Morimoto, 374th Airlift Wing, flight commander airfield operations.
Zobrist added, "The main message this sends to other countries is that the U.S. and Japan have a unique and close alliance. This exercise shows we have a strong alliance, which is working well."