A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Misawa Air Base, Japan, during exercise Keen Sword, Nov. 1. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

PHILIPPINE SEA - The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group participated in a series of air defense exercises (ADEX) with the U.S. Air Force and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as part of Keen Sword, Oct. 30 - Nov. 1.

The strike group conducted three, progressively more complex, air-to-air combat exercises with the JMSDF over the course of three days.

“These types of exercises are imperative for gaining proficiency,” said Chief Warrant Officer Nick Davis, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville’s (CG 62) air defense officer. “These exercises allow our countries to gain a better understanding and trust of each other so in the event of an actual conflict, we already know how to communicate and fulfill everyone’s needs.”

During the exercise, international partners were split into two integrated teams that acted as two fictional nations at war. Each team worked together as a combined task force to improve both nations' abilities to act together to gain a tactical and strategic advantage.

“There was the language barrier, but really the bigger obstacle was using Japanese systems and networks to communicate with our assets,” said Lt. Christian Murphy, Carrier Air Wing 5 liaison officer (LNO). “However watching our two nations work together and overcome this obstacle to properly plan a multinational exercise was particularly inspiring. This being my first experience as an LNO, I learned a lot about how the Japanese execute [their missions] and was surprised by how much of what they do mirrors our own methods.”

Approximately 10,000 U.S. service members from the following units are scheduled to participate in Keen Sword 2019: U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan, 7th Fleet, 5th Air Force, 374th Airlift Wing, 18th Wing, 35th Fighter Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The forces will conduct training with their JSDF counterparts from military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Tinian, and their surrounding waters.

“Keen Sword will give U.S. and Japanese forces an opportunity to practice critical air, maritime and amphibious capabilities essential for Japan’s defense and for regional security," said Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan. "Just as important, the exercise is a visible demonstration of the strength and durability of the U.S-Japan alliance and our shared pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

Keen Sword 2019 is a joint, bilateral field-training exercise that aims to improve interoperability between U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel, designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The Ronald Reagan Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.