Joint US-Japan Exercise Simulates Deflecting North Korean Attack

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2004

Keen Sword 05 -- the eighth such US-Japan training exercise since 1986 -– was conducted in November in preparation for exercise Active Shield, to begin 30 November. Exercise Keen Sword 2005 simulated defending Japan from an attack and involved various components of US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force working with the Japan Self Defense Force. The stated purpose was “to increase the defensive readiness of Japanese and American forces in the air, land and at sea, and to improve skills needed to operate together." About 4,400 US servicemen and 10,000 JSDF personnel participated. The annual Keen Edge/Keen Sword drills alternate between Keen Sword, a field-training exercise staged in odd fiscal years, and Keen Edge, a command-post exercise held in even fiscal years, according to a previous USFJ report. Training included joint operations of different aircraft types such as the F-15, F-2, KC-135, and C-130; facilities evacuations; base and force security; search-and-seizure; and tactical airdrops. Involved were air bases at Yokota, Misawa, Hiyakuri, Tsuiki, and Iwate, plus Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Naval Air Facilities Atsugi and Kadena. US Marines from Okinawa also participated. A key part of the training involved simulated air combat among different aircraft, such as the F-15 and F-2 in different combinations. Also practiced were suppression of enemy air defenses, secure communications in a hostile environment, tactical airdrops, surveillance and reconnaissance, aircraft identification, safe passage, and search-and-rescue. That these exercises are being held within view of China and North Korea is unlikely to be a coincidence. North Korea has in the past several years become one of Japan’s chief external concerns, as the reclusive nation has continued to aggressively expand its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Exercise Active Shield concludes in December.

The Japanese F-2 fighter is one of several aircraft types participating in joint exercises with the US.