SOUTH CHINA SEA - U.S. 7th Fleet, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and various other commands throughout Japan, the Pacific and continental United States completed Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint exercise 11-71 March 3.

The annual ballistic missile defense (BMD) training exercise held by U.S. Pacific Fleet, is a four-day exercise designed to enhance the joint, bilateral and interagency training in BMD against threats to regional and homeland installations and units.

"This Fleet Synthetic Training [FST] event provides a great opportunity to exercise with our JMSDF allies and U.S. Joint Forces in Hawaii and Japan in a fast-paced, realistic environment,” said Capt. Matthew E. Loughlin, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and the commander, Ballistic Missile Defense Warfare for 7th Fleet.

“To watch standers on the ship, it seems as realistic as any at-sea exercise, but with the added benefit of a very robust threat sustained for an entire week,” Loughlin added.

The 7th Fleet command flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) served as the central hub for the computer-based simulated training, networking with ships at sea and pier side.

Loughlin also noted the important role Japanese partners in the training exercise played, particularly the integration of Japanese destroyer JS Chokai (DDG 176) to the Fleet Synthetic Training scenario network.

“The JMSDF's ability to integrate fully into the architecture this year makes for an even better training event and is a tribute to our enduring friendship, cooperation and willingness to improve interoperability,” Loughlin said.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Weber, a mentor supporting Tactical Training Group Pacific (TTGP), which is headquartered in San Diego, said the engineering and training communities were grateful to have the opportunity to train with the crew from Chokai.

“Early on it was evident that the integration of JS Chokai into the FST was going to be a huge success,” Weber said. “The crew is highly capable and extremely well trained. At every opportunity, the crew met challenges head on, completed their tasking in an outstanding fashion, and demonstrated themselves as a highly professional and capable team.”

Chokai’s Commanding Officer Capt. Tsutomu Okawa, highly complimented on the exercise as being beneficial in strengthening Japan-U.S. alliance’s ability to maintain combat readiness.

“JMSDF, through this Japan-U.S. Joint BMD simulation exercise, improved tactical skills and procedures of bi-lateral BMD mission, and acquired significant lessons,” said Okawa. “On behalf of JMSDF, we sincerely appreciate all the kind support and cooperation of 7th Fleet, USS Shiloh, TTGP and staffs of the U.S. Navy.”