A B-1 bomber from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron leads a formation with fighters in front of U.S. Navy and Japanese surface vessels during Exercise Keen Sword 17, which took place Oct. 30 to Nov. 11, 2016. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/U.S. Navy
Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Approximately 10,000 combined U.S. service members, along with the Japan Self-Defense Force, or JSDF, have kicked off Keen Sword, a series of joint/bilateral field training exercises created to increase combat readiness between the two forces.
The biennial event -- which includes a total of 57,000 personnel -- kicks off Wednesday and runs through Nov. 9, and allows the U.S. military to train with the JSDF in realistic simulations of multiple mission areas to improve response capabilities in crisis situations.
The United States will pull members from the U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan, 7th Fleet, 5th Air Force, 374th Airlift Wing, 18th Wing, 35th Fighter Wing and III Marine Expeditionary Force to participate in the event.
"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," Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said in a press release. "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."
Beginning in 1986, the event tests the interoperability of the United States and JSDF with various exercises throughout Japan and nearby waterways. Two Canadian Royal Navy ships will also take part in the water exercises.
"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," Martinez said in a statement.
During this year's exercise, JSDF's Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, or ARDB, will team up with the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force to perform amphibious landings near Guam and Tinian. The U.S. Marines offer guidance and mentorship to the ARDB during the exercise.
"These developments are a positive sign of our shared interest in expanding partnerships and increasing multilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific," Martinez said. "The U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of regional peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region for nearly 60 years, and events like Keen Sword ensure that we will remain ready for the next sixty years," Martinez added.