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SWATT is the premier U.S. Naval Surface Force advanced tactical training exercise. It is designed and developed to increase combat capability and interoperability between surface units by providing multi-ship, multi-platform, multi-warfare area training at sea. Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Japan (FDNF-J) SWATT 2023 was the first multi-international iteration of the exercise with participation from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
"We are going to fight as a multi-national force, so it's only right that we train as a multi-national force", said Capt. Justin Harts, Deputy Commodore of CTF 71. “Exercises like FDNF-J SWATT 2023 are ways the United States builds deeper relationships and understanding with Allies and partners while simultaneously demonstrating a shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
The JMSDF ship that participated was destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178). Ashigara conducted several complex training events, including anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and air defense exercises alongside U.S. Navy vessels.
"Ashigara brought incredible capability and energy to the exercise,” said Capt. Edward Angelinas, Commanding Officer of the Cruiser USS Chancellorsville and overall commander for FDNF-J SWATT 2023. “Since we are routinely sailing with Allies and partners in the Western Pacific, her presence made for a much more realistic and robust event".
Training scenarios included: integrated air and missile defense (IAMD), anti-submarine warfare / surface warfare (ASW/SUW), information warfare (IW), and complex live-fire events that included missile firings and gunnery exercises designed to prepare forward deployed surface forces for operations against threats in the Western Pacific.
"We improved our tactical capabilities and interoperability with the U.S. Navy through this exercise,” said Capt. Kiichiro Sakai, commanding officer of JS Ashigara. “In this way, the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy closely work together on a regular basis to maintain and strengthen our bilateral response capabilities to various contingencies."
Units involved in the exercise were: USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51 (HSM 51), the JS Ashigara (DDG 178), and an embarked Sea Combat Commander element from Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15).
CTF 71/DESRON 15 is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for eight U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers which are: USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Benfold (DDG 65), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), and USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115).
U.S. 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 71/DESRON 15 is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principle Surface Force. CTF 70 is theater strike warfare commander and theater air and missile defense commander.
7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.