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Allies respond to potential crises at Keen Edge 14

9 Feb 2014 | 2nd Lt. John Roberts

CAMP FOSTER — Japan Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military forces participated in Exercise Keen Edge 2014, a joint-combined command post exercise, in an effort to better prepare and respond to potential emergency and crisis situations.

Keen Edge 2014 is a weeklong, 24-hour-a-day exercise that used a computer-based system to simulate a potential real-life crisis and test the real-time response capabilities of all personnel and units involved. More than 500 U.S. participants from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines worked together Jan. 27-31 to ensure mission success in several crisis areas to include force protection, ballistic missile defense, host nation support and noncombatant evacuation operations.

“Being able to simulate real-time events is a great way to test our response capabilities, especially in terms of speed and effectiveness,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Keith Satoris, liaison officer with the Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa. “Training like this is essential in making sure that when it really happens, we’re prepared and able to react.”

KE14 focused on integrating communications and efforts between partner organizations to facilitate fast, efficient responses to incidents that could potentially occur in the Pacific region, according to U.S. Army Capt. Sean Sullivan, a liaison officer with the Army’s 10th Regional Support Group.

This exercise provides a great opportunity for us to learn about how each different branch of U.S. service works and the specific role and responsibilities of the different services, according to a representative from the JGSDF’s 15th Brigade Headquarters, defense section.

Exercises like this, which emphasize maximizing response capabilities and effective use of assets, are vital in determining the ability to address these situations should they happen in the real-world.

“Exercises like this help us link all of our resources for if, or when, something like one of these situations should ever happen,” said Sullivan. “It lets us find out the best ways to communicate and work together prior to the time of the event, so we instantly know who can do what and ensure faster reaction time.”

The result of this exercise ensured the ability of U.S. forces to effectively and mutually respond to a regional crisis that would have a direct impact on the Pacific region, according to U.S. Marine Corps Col. Dwight Neeley, the night senior watch officer for the exercise.

“Exercise Keen Edge provides an outstanding opportunity for U.S. military forces and specifically the Marines here in Japan, to work closely with our JGSDF counterparts to enhance our combat readiness and interoperability,” said Neeley. “This allows us to work through the challenges of bilateral interoperability in order to ultimately provide a stronger defense capability to our allies in the region.”