YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
Units from the 374th Airlift Wing, and from the 353rd Special Operations Group accomplished a variety of missions alongside their JSDF and joint partners across the Kanto Plains, allowing the enhancement of bilateral operations between the U.S. and Japan.
“As we develop new and better ways to operate and integrate, exercises like this clearly demonstrate the growing strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, U.S. Forces Japan commander, said. “In spite of the immense global impact from COVID, the U.S.-Japan Alliance did not falter and we have remained ready to fight and win.”
Continuing to foster that alliance takes commitment and teamwork. For the Airmen assigned to the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 36th Airlift Squadron and the 730th Air Mobility Squadron, working harmoniously with their Japanese counterparts led to the successful completion operations like mission planning, personnel jumps, and cargo inspections, uploads, and air drops.
“The importance of doing cargo loading and air drops in these kinds of exercises, is to increase the combat readiness between us and our host nation,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Baerga, 374th LRS Combat Mobility Flight supervisor. “So, if anything ever happens real world, we should be able to work swiftly, quickly and accurately to put whatever we need on these aircraft and deliver them wherever we may need them.”
KS21 also comprised of unilateral training between the 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron, the 753rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 21st Special Operations Squadron and the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, during which personnel conducted a nighttime search and rescue at the Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji and a fast rope and hoist training at Yokota.
Metal barrels simulated an aircraft having had to make an emergency landing in the woods, while 753rd SOAMXS Airmen played injured and isolated personnel as part of the SAR scenario. The STS team used land navigation techniques to locate the IP and get them securely to the waiting CV-22 Osprey.
“Keen Sword gives the SOG the ability to practice search and rescue and combat search and rescue on a larger scale,” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Moore, 353rd SOSS survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist. “We have conventional Air Force assets that are also participating in KS, and that gives us an entire architecture of aircraft that can be over head.”
This was the first time Special Operations Forces were integrated in this exercise. The 353rd Special Operations group, with units at both Yokota and Kadena AB, conducted joint training with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in addition to observing training with JSDF partners.
KS21 has ensured the U.S.-Japan alliance continues to serve as the foundation for regional peace and security in the Indo-Pacific, for the past 60 years.
“While taking part in Keen Sword, we are sharpening our skills as a military entity, to ensure that whenever we need to be lethal, we are ready,” Baerga said.