YOKOSUKA, Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan and Japan Self Defense Force (JMSDF) operators will hone their Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) skills in exercise Keen Edge 2014 which runs through Jan. 31.

Throughout the exercise, Japanese and U.S. headquarter staffs will simulate the tactical defensive steps that would be taken in the event of a crisis or contingency.

"The successful defense of Japanese and U.S. interests from unanticipated ballistic missile threats requires detailed planning, precision ship stationing and lightning quick reactions," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Klobukowski, 7th Fleet integrated air and missile defense officer. "BMD is one of the many missions the U.S. and Japan train for together."

Since 1986, the United States military and JMSDF have collaborated and planned a biennial joint-bilateral exercise referred to as Keen Edge.

"Keen Edge 14 helps the U.S. military and JMSDF build relationships ensuring we can work effectively together to defend Japan and U.S. forces based here. Our goal is to provide credible and tangible defensive combat power to ensure security and stability in the region." explained Klobukowski.

This year, Keen Edge will focus on the importance of bilateral coordination, force protection, host nation support, ballistic missile defense and non-combatant evacuation operations. More than 500 U.S. military personnel will participate in the exercise.

The exercise builds on recent Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense achievements such as the October 2013 intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile, the 28th successful intercept in 34 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Aegis BMD engagement capability defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats with the SM-3, as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IV missile.