JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.83

ACTIVITIES

Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17

Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17

From October 30th to November 11th, the SDF and U.S. Forces conducted the FY2016 joint exercise (field exercise) called Keen Sword 17. The goal of this joint exercise is to maintain and improve the capabilities of both forces, by training SDF’s joint operation basics with the scenario of an armed attack situation or an anticipated armed attack situation including defense of remote islands, joint response basics with the U.S. Forces, and response basics with the scenario of situations that will have an important influence on Japan’s peace and security.

This joint exercise was conducted in the waters and airspace around Japan, at JDF bases and the bases of U.S. Forces in Japan, as well as in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the surrounding the waters and airspace of them. Approx. 25,000 personnel from each branch of the SDF as well as approx. 20 vessels and approx. 260 aircraft participated, while approx. 11,000 personnel from U.S. Forces took part. Additionally, personnel from the militaries of the U.K., Australia, Canada and the Republic of Korea participated as observers.

The main components of the exercise were: (1) amphibious operations; (2) response to multiple airborne threats; (3) joint operations between Japan and the U.S. to protect air space and sea areas; and (4) search and rescue operations in response to situations that will have an important influence on Japan’s peace and security.

The first Japan-U.S. joint exercises started in 1985, and generally field exercise and command post exercise are held interchangeably every year. This year marks the 13th time that field exercise has been conducted.

Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17
Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17
Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17
Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise Keen Sword 17

Changes of Postures of Counter-Piracy Operations

Changes of Postures of Counter-Piracy Operations

On November 1st, the Cabinet approved changes the posture of Japan’s counter-piracy operations.

Summary

The ongoing efforts of the international community with regards to counter-piracy operations by forces around the world, including the SDF, and the protection of private sector vessels have been a success, and the number of piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden are now kept down at very low levels. However, the threat of piracy remains unchanged given the fact of continuing poverty in Somalia, which the fundamental cause of piracy. For this reason, there still exists a need to carry out counter-piracy operations.

Under such circumstances, the activities of the SDF’s P-3C patrol aircraft account for over 70% of the surveillance and monitoring efforts being conducted by international aircraft in the Gulf of Aden. The information provided by SDF’s P-3C forms the basis of counter-piracy operations by the countries’ naval units.

On the other hand, while certain types of vessel are vulnerable to piracy and still requesting SDF destroyers to provide direct escort, commercial vessels are now more inclined to conduct their own self-defense measures, which has reduced the need for it. It is assumed that this trend continues for some time. Given this situation regarding the escort by destroyers, the government considers it is believed that one destroyer will be enough to carry out counter-piracy operations by surface unit. Therefore, while keeping the two P-3C patrol aircraft, the 26th Surface Unit that departed Japan on November 20th and will arrive in the Gulf of Aden in mid-December comprises one destroyer. This posture of one destroyer and two P3-Cs will be applied for counter-piracy operations for the subsequent one-year period.

Other

From the beginning of March 2017 to the end of June 2017, a Rear Admiral ranked MSDF officer will be dispatched to the area as CTF151 Commander. The CTF151 Command Division for this period will comprise a team of approx. 20 persons, including approx. 10 MSDF personnel and approx. 10 personnel from other countries.

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