Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, pose with members of U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol squadrons during a visit to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Nov. 6. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Kevin A. Flinn)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan - Patrol Squadron (VP) 46, VP-16 and VP-47 are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2019 (KS19) within the U.S. 7th Fleet (C7F) area of operations Oct. 29 – Nov. 8.

Keen Sword is a biennial exercise in a series of joint training exercises since 1986 designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. forces and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) at military installations throughout Japan and surrounding waters.

"This exercise will enhance our ability to work with the JMDSF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) more effectively," said Lt. Cmdr. Meredith Trezise, Commander Task Group 72.2 tactics officer.

Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72 is the U.S. Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) operating platform within C7F. The training objectives for CTF-72's MPRA assets within KS19 are to demonstrate bilateral coordination and interoperability with air and surface forces and the ability to effectively operate as a combined naval force and to defeat adversarial maritime forces.

“Creating a positive relationship with 7th Fleet (anti-submarine warfare) communities is extremely important for maritime patrol forces,” said Lt. j.g. Conner Ferguson, VP-16’s plans and exercises officer. “Due to Japan’s location, partner interoperability is imperative for the safety and protection of the Western Pacific region.”

CTF-72 will execute 13 flights, consisting of both P-3C Orion and P-8A Poseidon aircraft in support of a joint war-at-sea event within KS19.

"Like any high-level exercise, there's always a lot of moving pieces to ensure safety and mission effectiveness,” said Trezise.

Approximately 10,000 U.S. service members from commands such as U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan, C7F, 5th Air Force, 374th Airlift Wing, 18th Wing and 35th Fighter Wing are taking part in the exercise.

CTF-72 leads patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in support of C7F, promoting regional security and enhancement of theater security operations through multilateral engagements to build, reconnaissance and surveillance capability within C7F and partner forces.