US, Japanese rescue squadrons participate in exercise Keen Sword Published Nov. 14, 2014 By 2nd Lt. Erik Anthony 18th Wing Public Affairs KOMATSU AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Personnel from the Japan Self Defense Force are teaming up with Kadena Air Base's 33rd Rescue Squadron and Eielson Air Force Base's 212th Rescue Squadron in support of a Japan-wide, joint-bilateral exercise that will run until Nov. 19. Exercise Keen Sword is a bilateral field training exercise held biennially since 1986. The exercise is designed to increase the interoperability of U.S. and Japanese forces to effectively and mutually provide for the defense of Japan, or respond to a regional crisis or contingency situation in the Asia-Pacific region. During the exercise, Japanese service members will work hand-in-hand with U.S. military members from the 33rd and 212th RQS. They will participate in a wide range of simulated rescue operations while working to improve the interoperability required to respond to a potential crisis. "It's great to have the U.S. here to conduct joint-bilateral training that's applicable to real world scenarios," said Lt. Col. Hiroshi Kageura, the Komatsu Air Rescue Squadron commander with the Japanese forces. The goal of the rescue squadrons during Keen Sword 2015 is not only to validate and refine cooperation in the defense of Japan, but also to further improve upon incident response procedures in the event of a natural disaster. "Rescue operations are important during peacetime and wartime environments," Kageura said. "More lives can be saved through bilateral operations." The exercise allows military service members to improve their rescue capabilities through joint training and helps build bilateral confidence and strong working relationships. "It's always a great when we have the opportunity to work with our Japanese counterparts and build upon our relationship," said Lt. Col. Jameson Dugdale, the 33rd RQS deployed commander. "This exercise strengthens our partnership by giving us the chance to work together, share cultures and test tactics."