HomeNewsArticle Display

Keen Sword 17

An MC-130H Combat Talon II from the 1st Special Operations Squadron refuels an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 943rd Rescue Group during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. U.S. forces will conduct training with their Japan Self-Defense Force counterparts at military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An MC-130H Combat Talon II from the 1st Special Operations Squadron refuels an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 943rd Rescue Group during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. U.S. forces will conduct training with their Japan Self-Defense Force counterparts at military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

A loadmaster from the 1st Special Operations Squadron looks out of the back of an MC-130H Combat Talon II during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The Indo-Asia-Pacific region holds the majority of the world’s people and trade, and the Japan-U.S. alliance is the bedrock of peace, security and prosperity in this region. Exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of the friendship between our people. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

A loadmaster from the 1st Special Operations Squadron looks out of the back of an MC-130H Combat Talon II during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The Indo-Asia-Pacific region holds the majority of the world’s people and trade, and the Japan-U.S. alliance is the bedrock of peace, security and prosperity in this region. Exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of the friendship between our people. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An MC-130H Combat Talon II from the 1st Special Operations Squadron refuels an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 943rd Rescue Group during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The 353rd Special Operations Group supported Keen Sword 17 by providing a refueling point for U.S. and Japan Air Self-Defense Force HH-60 Pave Hawks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An MC-130H Combat Talon II from the 1st Special Operations Squadron refuels an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 943rd Rescue Group during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 7, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The 353rd Special Operations Group supported Keen Sword 17 by providing a refueling point for U.S. and Japan Air Self-Defense Force HH-60 Pave Hawks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Esrick Hamilton, a maintainer from the 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit, prepares an HH-60 Pave Hawk for take-off during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Approximately 11,000 U.S. personnel will participate in KS17, including those assigned to U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Senior Airman Esrick Hamilton, a maintainer from the 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit, prepares an HH-60 Pave Hawk for take-off during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Approximately 11,000 U.S. personnel will participate in KS17, including those assigned to U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron takes off during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Significant training activities during Keen Sword 17 include air and sea operations, integrated air and missile defense and ballistic missile defense in order to keep pace with the growing ballistic missile threat in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron takes off during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Significant training activities during Keen Sword 17 include air and sea operations, integrated air and missile defense and ballistic missile defense in order to keep pace with the growing ballistic missile threat in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

The 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons set up a mobile command center during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Rescue Squadrons need to be able to set up a command center anywhere in the world in order to respond to rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

The 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons set up a mobile command center during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 8, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Rescue Squadrons need to be able to set up a command center anywhere in the world in order to respond to rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen from the 31st RS and HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 33rd Rescue Squadron rescue simulated survivors during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. KS17 involves U.S. forces and the JSDF from all components of both militaries, training to conduct bilateral operations in support of the defense of Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen from the 31st RS and HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 33rd Rescue Squadron rescue simulated survivors during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. KS17 involves U.S. forces and the JSDF from all components of both militaries, training to conduct bilateral operations in support of the defense of Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Japan Air Self-Defense Force pararescuemen parachute into the ocean during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. JASDF and 31st Rescue Squadron Pararescuemen conducted a mass casualty exercise, practicing rescuing survivors of an aircraft crash in open ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Japan Air Self-Defense Force pararescuemen parachute into the ocean during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. JASDF and 31st Rescue Squadron Pararescuemen conducted a mass casualty exercise, practicing rescuing survivors of an aircraft crash in open ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron waits to pick up simulated survivors during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The mass casualty portion of the exercise demonstrated partnership with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Rescue Squadrons as they worked with their U.S. counterparts to evacuate simulated survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron waits to pick up simulated survivors during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The mass casualty portion of the exercise demonstrated partnership with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Rescue Squadrons as they worked with their U.S. counterparts to evacuate simulated survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Japan Air Self-Defense Force and 31st Rescue Squadron pararescuemen rescue survivors of a simulated aircraft crash during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The survivors were pulled off the raft and later hoisted up into rescue helicopters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 11

Japan Air Self-Defense Force and 31st Rescue Squadron pararescuemen rescue survivors of a simulated aircraft crash during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. The survivors were pulled off the raft and later hoisted up into rescue helicopters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

An MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron flies overhead during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. Approximately 11,000 U.S. military personnel participated in KS17, including those assigned to U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force and 7th Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 11

An MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron flies overhead during Exercise Keen Sword 17 Nov. 10, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan. Approximately 11,000 U.S. military personnel participated in KS17, including those assigned to U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force and 7th Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. and Japan Air Self-Defense Force Rescue Squadrons participated in Exercise Keen Sword 17, which started Oct. 30.

Keen Sword is the largest joint, bilateral field training exercise between the U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force and involves U.S. forces and the JSDF from all components of both militaries.

These forces are training to conduct bilateral operations in support of the defense of Japan and this exercise is designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability within the framework of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

“Operational readiness is a guiding principle for U.S. Forces, Japan,” said USFJ Commander Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez. “Keen Sword 17 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.”

Approximately 11,000 U.S. military personnel participated in KS17, including those assigned to U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, III Marine Expeditionary Force and 7th Fleet. The forces conducted training with their JSDF counterparts at military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the air and waters surrounding Japan, Guam and Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands.

Significant training activities during KS17 included air and sea operations, integrated air and missile defense, and ballistic missile defense in order to keep pace with the growing ballistic missile threat in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The Okinawan portion of the exercise included rescue operations involving JASDF, 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons, with support from the 353rd Special Operations Group.

The RS set up a mobile command center on Kadena to simulate conducting operations away from home, such as in a deployed environment.

“Our helicopters are a bit slower than our fixed-wing counterparts so we have to be a little closer to the action,” said Maj. Andrew Fink, Keen Sword Okinawa commander. “Just like what we did during operation Tomadachi for the tsunami in northern Japan, we can set up a command center and conduct a search and rescue operation anywhere in the world.”

A key part of this exercise is the bilateral operations between U.S. and JASDF forces when it comes to search and rescue.

JASDF and U.S. rescue squadrons practiced in-flight refueling as well as a mass-casualty exercise rescuing survivors of a simulated downed aircraft in the open ocean.

Fink explained JASDF rescue units hold a 24/7 alert, so they are the first to respond.

“We’re here as a backup and for U.S.-only rescue operations,” he said. “However, our Japanese counterparts are very capable in search and rescue.”

As U.S. and JASDF forces continue to work together, they improve on interoperability between the two nations, which is vital to safety and peace in the region.

“The Indo-Asia-Pacific region holds the majority of the world’s people and trade. As we face an increasingly tense security environment, large-scale field training exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of our alliance, as well as our shared commitment to peace and stability in the region,” Martinez said.