JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – 'Deep Steel' Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, finalized preparations for deployment to Japan in support of operation Keen Sword 2021—a joint expeditionary bilateral exercise —alongside the III Marines Expeditionary Force and Japan Self-Defense Forces Oct. 3 at Boeing Airfield, Wash.“I’m extremely proud of and impressed by the Alpha Battery Soldiers and their resilience as the mission changed from Orient Shield to Keen Sword 21—they stood up our equipment to standard in a timely manner—taking on every last minute tasking to get us out the door,” said Capt. Bill Foard, commander of A Battery, 1st Bn., 94th FAR. “We are ready to show off our capabilities as an Army to the Marines—and look forward to interoperability with the III MEF in an amphibious assault—training and working with some of the Japanese.”Nearly 9,000 U.S. service members from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force will take part in Keen Sword 21—the latest in a Joint Chiefs of Staff sponsored bilateral series of field training exercises since 1986 designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability across the JSDF and U.S. forces. The U.S. Forces will train alongside JSDF counterparts from military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and surrounding territorial waters.This year, the 17th FAB’s Keen Sword mission focuses on expeditionary deployment operations through M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rapid infiltration (HI-RAIN) training—which showcases a crew’s combat readiness and quick-precision-striking ability by rapidly preparing and mobilizing the HIMARS in support of III MEF’s amphibious landings.With 17th FAB’s support, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade and U.S. Marines from III MEF will conduct multiple amphibious landings both unilaterally and side-by-side on several islands in Japan.Keen Sword and similar exercises provide the JSDF and U.S. Forces opportunities to train together across a large scope of mission directives in realistic scenarios-focused on enhancing readiness and interoperability—demonstrating credible force.In coordination with public health and military medical personnel, every aspect of Keen Sword is continually assessed to ensure appropriate COVID-19 mitigation measures are met. Mitigation measures are focused on protecting service members and their families and preventing the spread of the virus to U.S. forces, local residents and allies—while maintaining warfighting readiness in order to accomplish assigned missions.