SAGAMIHARA, Japan - Since the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade's historic reactivation Oct. 16, 2018 at Sagami General Depot, Pacific Guardians hit the ground running to establish seamless operations, training, and enhance air and missile defense readiness in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Col. Patrick Costello, 38th ADA Brigade commander, maintains mission command of U.S. Army AMD forces in Japan and Guam and supports Indo-Pacific Command, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and U.S. Forces Japan by providing Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) oversight.
The Pacific Guardian Brigade strengthens IAMD capabilities throughout the region by participating in multiple bilateral and joint training exercises including Shodan Watch, Orient Shield, Yama Sakura, and most recently, Keen Edge.
Shodan Watch offered a collaborative approach to address the complexities of joint operations and enhanced 'Fight Tonight' unit readiness allowing Soldiers to receive first-hand experience with that imperative.
"Applying a simulated tactical scenario during training prepares us for realistic and accurate wartime environments," said Sgt. Camden Shoults, air defense battle management systems operator. "When maintaining a 'Fight Tonight' mindset, it is essential that all Soldiers know their individual and team responsibilities during increased operations tempo."
During Orient Shield, air defense, fires, aviation and maritime elements merged capabilities to enhance readiness through the use of the Link 16 cyber domain.
"Link 16 is a joint data communication that provides the end user with connectivity to other forces," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Keon Ellison, brigade interface control officer. "It provides targeting data, and air track data. Basically, it provides input into the common operational picture or the air picture that allows the unit to see where everything is and see where other players are on the battlefield."
Participants sought to increase interoperability and demonstrate that they could share targeting and sensor information across platforms leveraging the Link 16 network for commanders to make real-time immediate decisions.
The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of efforts to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific Region. Yama Sakura was a premier bilateral exercise which enhanced the combat readiness and interoperability of the two countries. During the exercise, the unit facilitated coordination, communication and operations across multiple domains with Japan Self-Defense Forces.
During Keen Edge, the 94th AAMDC, the brigade's higher headquarters, served as external evaluators to assess how well the command works closely with their U.S. and Japanese partners refining tactics, techniques and procedures in the event of a crisis or contingency.
Working closely with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force counterparts becomes a collaborative effort to defend Japan. For the first time ever, the brigade hosted air defense members of the JGSDF during the 10-week U.S. Army Japan Cooperative Work Program.
"Working with the 38th ADA Brigade these past few weeks allowed me to understand the importance of knowing how each other operates in the defense of our countries against real-world air and missile ballistic threats," said 1st Lt. Kenta Kita, air defense officer, 7th Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment, JGSDF and program participant. "This experience has opened my eyes to the many similarities we have as service members despite our cultural differences."
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery; Task Force Talon; 10th Missile Defense Battery; 14th Missile Defense Battery; and Headquarters and Headquarters Battery continue to support and strengthen bi-lateral relationships with JSDF allies and the Guam community through training and community functions. Many are actively and regularly engaged in fostering positive relationships with the local community, educating the Japanese people about the unit's mission, participating in the various year-round festivals, and devoting countless hours to English language literacy initiatives, local community clean-ups, and a myriad of other activities.
Today, the brigade enters 2020 with more modernization ahead. The forward-stationed missile defense units in Japan and Guam continue to participate in regional and theater-level exercises building partnership capacity with allies in order to protect against an ever-increasing ballistic missile threat in the region. Pacific Guardians are proud to be a part of the premier Army Air and Missile Defense Command capable of quickly transitioning to war while remaining ready and able to execute their combat mission at any time.