In this file photo, USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) andJS Fuyuzuki (DD 118) steam in formation during exercise MultiSail 2018. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Sarah Myers)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - Units and personnel from the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will kick off a bilateral advanced warfighting training (BAWT) exercise, Feb. 29.

BAWT is a bilateral training exercise that improves interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. The focus of the exercise will be on increasing combat readiness and warfighting excellence of coalition forces.

"It is a great opportunity to continue to work with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to enhance our bilateral operations at sea," said Capt. Steven DeMoss, commander, Destroyer Squadron 15. "Our enduring relationship and advanced exercises with the JMSDF forms the basis for regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific."

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security between the United States and Japan. The United States and Japan have forged a relationship built on a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and regularly conduct bilateral exercises and operations to strengthen regional adherence to international norms.

Participants include the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), the Takanami-class destroyer JS Suzunami (DD 114), the Asagiri-class destroyer JS Sawagiri (DD 157), and a number of other naval forces.

“It is a precious experience for us to conduct this bilateral exercise with the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Nishimura Toshiyuki, commander, Escort Division 7. “Through this exercise, we will deepen the bond between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy, improve the interoperability and our tactical skills. I sincerely hope that we will conclude this exercise successfully and obtain good results.”

BAWT 2020 supports the U.S. Navy and JMSDF mission to develop regional capabilities that provide layered defensive options to protect their interests and those of their allies and partners. The participating forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of combined forces. These capabilities range from maritime security operations to more complex anti-submarine and air defense exercises.

BAWT enhances the ability of the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to work together to confront any contingency. BAWT prepares forces to provide the ready, credible deterrence that stabilizes the Indo-Pacific, and promotes peace and prosperity for all nations throughout the region.

DESRON 15 is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.