Keen Sword 21: 35th SFS joins forces with JSDFs, increasing base defense interoperability

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 35th Security Forces Squadron practiced base defense with their Japanese counterparts during a bilateral Guard and Protect exercise, as part of Keen Sword 21, Oct. 26-28.

Keen Sword is a joint, bilateral field-training exercise involving U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Force personnel, designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability.

The collaboration with Japan Air Self-Defense Force airmen, 3rd Air Wing, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers from the 9th Division, 5th Infantry Regiment in Aomori, Japan, exercise tested the combined force's ability to protect Misawa's war fighting assets.

The Guard and Protect bilateral agreement, signed in 2003, between the United States and Japanese government states during heightened threats to installations throughout the country, JGSDF and JASDF will augment security at U.S installations.

“The intent is for each major U.S. installation in Japan to collaborate with a JSDF units to ensure adequate security of military facilities and resources across Japan when activated by higher headquarters,” said Master Sgt. Shannon Hutto, the 35th SFS Integrated Defense section chief.

The array of training included use of force, suspicious activity reporting, S.A.L.U.T.E reporting, entry control procedures, gate runner, individual and vehicle challenges procedures, handcuffing and searching techniques and vehicle searching.

This training allowed U.S. and Japan forces to exercise plans for contingency operation. Lessons learned from each encounter are used to solidify or improve bilateral operational effectiveness.

“Having the JGSDF general attend was a strong display of support for bilateral planning,” Hutto said. “We provided him information pertaining to where we were, where we are, and where we want to go, with Guard & Protect, and also demonstrated what the JSDF soldiers and airmen learned over the course of three days.”

Testing that coordination, the members of the 35th SFS were able to create even more trust in their partners from the JSDF personnel.

“Whenever we get the chance to exercise with our partners, cohesion is what it is all about,” said Tech. Sgt. Spencer Villanueva, a 35th SFS training evaluator. “During these engagements, we build on the framework of previous exercises, furthering the level of understanding and trust. They showed me how much I can rely on them, and I hope we did the same for them. I know if we ever needed them to defend this base, together we could do just that.”