Exercise Keen Sword 2013 concludes

Lance Cpl. Jordan A. Finestone posts security on the back of an assault amphibious vehicle during an amphibious landing at Camp Schwab during Exercise Keen Sword 2013 Nov. 15. Finestone is a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Adam B. Miller)

Exercise Keen Sword 2013 concludes

by: Lance Cpl. Adam B. Miller
Okinawa Marine staff
published: November 23, 2012
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CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines and sailors concluded Exercise Keen Sword 2013 with an amphibious landing here Nov. 15.

Keen Sword, which was executed Nov. 5-16, is a regularly-scheduled, joint, bilateral exercise between U.S. and Japanese forces at training locations throughout Japan. Keen Sword allows the U.S. and Japan to practice coordination procedures and improve interoperability required to effectively defend Japan or respond to crises throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

"Overall, I feel that the operations went smooth and showed how units from different countries, with different languages, can work together in a combined effort to accomplish any task," said Master Sgt. Frank Edling, the operations chief with Assault Amphibious Vehicle Company, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

During the 12th biennial exercise, Marines with CAB and Company E, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, conducted marksmanship training and an amphibious landing, and held a cake-cutting ceremony for the Marine Corps' 237th birthday while aboard the USS Denver. Japan Self-Defense Force members were also aboard the USS Denver to observe the Marines' training.

The amphibious landing tied into the Marine Corps' recent push to get back to its amphibious roots. Keen Sword provided an opportunity for members of the JSDF to observe how Marines conduct amphibious operations.

"The primary goal of the AAVs during this operation was to provide a lift capability to the infantry and to conduct an amphibious assault," said Edling. "Overall, Keen Sword went very well. By conducting the amphibious landing, we showed how the AAV plays a part in larger missions."

Having members of the JSDF on hand was critical for the exercise, as the real purpose of Keen Sword was to facilitate the interaction and improve the interoperability of the U.S. forces and the JSDF.

"Both countries' forces displayed their ability to work as an integrated force in readiness," Edling said. "During the final day of the exercise, our Marines showed they are very capable of landing the surface assault element and their equipment in a single lift from a naval vessel to inland objectives."

Some operations were designed to familiarize JSDF members and infantry Marines with how AAVs function and maneuver.

"I am glad the AAVs got the chance to do their part. The execution went smoothly due to good preparation and maintenance," said Sgt. Bart C. Pryor, an AAV technician with AAV Company.

Members of the JSDF also got a glimpse of the Marine Corps' illustrious history when the Marines held a cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate the Corps' 237th birthday.

"It is important for them to know our traditions and for us to know their traditions. It brings us closer and unifies us as a fighting force," said Staff Sgt. Djahnn A. McClellan, a food service specialist with Headquarters Company, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

The success of Keen Sword relied on U.S. and Japanese forces practicing effective communication and interoperability. It is vital that both countries' service members interact with each other and get to know each other better, according to McClellan.

"It is unbelievable," said McClellan. "Not many Marines can say they spent their Marine Corps birthday on an amphibious ship, in the Pacific, off the coast of Okinawa and with members of the Japan Self-Defense Force. Considering how far we have come, it is just unbelievable."