Bombs Away!

by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --  A Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130 flew to Kadena Air Base Oct. 30, 2016, as part of the ongoing exercise Keen Sword.

This bilateral exercise, which will run until Jan. 29, involves U.S. military and JSDF personnel and is designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. forces and the JSDF, according to U.S. Pacific Command.

Japanese Air Self-Defense force members transferred mock munitions to members of the 18th Munitions Squadron for storage and transfer to the U.S. Navy on White Beach and then to the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.

“We provide safe storage before transferring custody over to the Seventh Fleet, who will provide the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force with the assets,” said Master Sgt. Preston Sims, 18th MUNS stockpile management section chief. “We are here to support the joint-service operation by assisting with transporting some Japanese assets to a safe-haven in the munitions storage area.”

Several weeks of coordination between the four branches of military culminated into this transferring of assets between the two nations militaries – this was the first time an operation like this has been conducted, according to Sims.

“If the Government of Japan needs to employ this as an option to transport assets, the 18th MUNS will be prepared with the procedures to do so,” said Preston.

Keen Sword is a multi-phase exercise involving multiple bases and branches from across the Indo-Asia Pacific Theater.

“Within the munitions storage area we have Marines, Army, and even JASDAF members who work closely together,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael MacNeil, Materiel flight chief with the 18th MUNS. “For our ammo troops, it’s been a really unique opportunity for us to work with all the different services and the Government of Japan.”

With operations and exercises like Keen Sword, the 18th MUNS demonstrates the truly broad range of capabilities they have.

"A lot of the perception is when you see F-15s on the flightline, that that’s all we do; support the daily flying mission,” said MacNeil. “Keen Sword showcases we do far more than that – we are a multi-faceted military organization. We support everyone who brings munitions to and from the island, from flightline operations down to port arms at White Beach. We participate in many operations and aid our sister services whenever possible.”

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