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Planners from the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces engage in missile defense planning during the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Wargame V on Feb. 13, 2014, in the 613th Air Operations Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii. The exercise centered around building relationships between the joint U.S. team and Japan's military forces to overcome regional security challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Allen)

By Capt. Justin Billot, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --  Personnel from the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) engaged in the week-long “Integrated Air and Missile Defense Wargame V” at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to strengthen ties between the two nations and unite missile defense operations through bilateral training.

Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force gathered on the shores of Oahu during the second week of February to participate in the bilateral and joint exercise.

Japan Air Self-Defense Force Maj. Gen. Yutaka Masuko, director of the defense plans and operations directorate at the air defense command headquarters, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Ryo Sakai, commanding officer of Escort Flotilla One, led a team of Japanese air and missile defense planners during the exercise. The 613th Air Operations Center of Pacific Air Forces hosted the event.

“The goal of this exercise is to continue bilateral integration between our two nations to promote the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region,” said Maj. Gen. Kevin Pottinger, mobilization assistant to the PACAF commander. “Integration and ally engagements are keys to the success of mutual defense of Japan and continued free access to the global commons.”

The event is a continuation of previous exercises that provide opportunities for service members from each nation to work together as well as enabling important joint U.S. training. Bilateral engagements are central to U.S. and Japanese shared goals of security and regional stability, according to Pottinger.

“We have made great progress working with our Japanese allies to enhance the integration of our air and missile defense operations,” Pottinger said. “This exercise strengthened our highly synchronized, bilateral control of integrated air and missile defense.”

The high fidelity, tabletop exercise was run by the Naval War College’s Gravely Group and faculty from the College of Operational and Strategic Leadership.  It challenged Japan Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces with a series of simulated events throughout a five-day period. Ultimately, these simulations provide realistic training opportunities for defense personnel while generating actionable and knowledgeable feedback for missile defense planning. For many military personnel, it was the first time working alongside allies in the Pacific.

One aspect that required no simulation was the effort required to coordinate defense training across two different languages. Even with the outstanding English skills of the visiting JSDF officers, the fast pace of a missile defense exercise and its complex, highly technical vocabulary made the role of key language translators absolutely essential in the bilateral exchanges.

IAMD Wargame V is one of many bilateral exercises this year. These engagements ensure that when it comes to security and stability in the Pacific, Japanese and U.S. forces are speaking the same language.