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Exercise Keen Sword 2013 Kicks Off with JSDF Embark aboard George Washington

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS121113-04
11/13/2012

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ricardo Guzman, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commander of Escort Flotilla 1, and members of his staff, while the George Washington Carrier Strike Group participates in Keen Sword 2013, Nov. 6.

Rear Adm. Ryo Sakai was aboard to observe a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and the Sailors working in a simulated warfighting environment.

"It is important for both sides to know each other's capabilities," said Cmdr. Joe Espiritu, Japan plans and exercises officer for Commander, Task Force 70. "We're on the same team so we need to know what tools we have available to the team and the ways they can be employed."

In the months leading up to Keen Sword 2013, Espiritu helped shape the exercise to improve joint and bilateral coordination and interoperability in an effort to learn how to synchronize efforts and discover ways to improve.

"I lead a team of exercise planners from around the strike group, and together with plans from other services and the Japan Self Defense Force, we shape the scenario and the infrastructure to allow the strike group and our joint bilateral partners to train the way we fight," said Espiritu.

The operation will not only improve tactics and maritime defense, but also help communication between the forces.

"The greatest benefit of having our joint and bilateral partners aboard with us is that we can establish personal and professional relationships," said Espiritu. "In the future, if we have an issue to resolve or a problem to solve, we already know who to call and how they do business."

Keen Sword 2013 involves joint U.S. Forces and JSDF from all components of both militaries participating in locations throughout Japan. The exercise is held bi-annually and is designed to strengthen coordination procedures and heighten interoperability needed to effectively defend Japan or respond to a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Japan and the U.S. Navy have been conducting combined exercises for decades," said Sakai. "It is very critical to demonstrate our strength and competence."

The U.S. Navy is committed to enhance and protect the Asia-Pacific region through operational proficiency, readiness and interoperability to strengthen our alliances and partnerships.

"We need to practice tactics; with improved tactics, we can gain leverage and we can better defend the sea," said Sakai. "The main challenge is learning how to better communicate. We think these exercises will greatly improve our relations between military forces."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.



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