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YOKOSUKA, Japan - Leadership from U.S. 7th Fleet met with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for staff talks April 15.
Rear Adm. Will Pennington, commander, Task Force 70 and Capt. Chase Sargeant, commander, Task Force 71 that command Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 discussed maritime strategy and how best to operate forces together at sea with Vice Adm. SAITO Akira, commander, Fleet Escort Force.
"Our relationship with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is key to our strategic advantage in the Indo-Pacific region. Preserving free and open transit and trade across such a vast expanse takes teamwork and trust," said Pennington. "We have continued to operate closely at sea and ashore despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic. Regular face-to-face meetings ensure strong alignment and boost our ability to deepen and expand our relationship in the days ahead."
The JMSDF leadership conducted a tour of Reagan, the CSG 5 flagship, and concluded their visit with staff discussion centered on future exercises, operations, and engagements the 7th Fleet task forces will conduct with their Japanese counterparts.
"U.S. and Japanese naval surface forces need to work together more than ever before," said SAITO. "We agreed to further improve the interoperability of our forces based on our good and close JP-US alliance developed for long years."
7th Fleet exercises operational control of its units through designated Task Forces or Task Groups. These groups are organized along domain and functional lines. CTF 70 is theater strike warfare commander and theater air and missile defense commander. CTF 71 is theater surface warfare commander and theater maritime interception operations commander.
Staff talks allow for commanders to plan for future operations, work through challenges or lessons learned, while building towards greater collaboration when their forces operate together in the maritime environment.
"I look forward to the continued integration of our surface forces, conducting more operations that will reinforce our professional skills and capabilities at sea," said Sargeant. "I've seen first-hand what it means for our Sailors to work together with the JMSDF team, and know because of our interactions and commitment, our future is very bright."
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed strike group and one of America's most visible symbols of resolve. Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, is the Navy's largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet's principal surface force. These task forces operating together alongside allies from the JMSDF strengthens each nation's collective commitment to rules-based international order.