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U.S. and Japanese Forces team up for Southern Beach

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Luis Rios-Calderon
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Airmen and Sailors from Kadena Air Base, Japan teamed up in the skies near Okinawa with Japan Air Self Defense Force personnel during the latest iteration of the bilateral Southern Beach exercise on 19 January, 2023.

“Southern Beach is a bilateral exercise between U.S. personnel from Kadena Air Base, and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Sebastian Coburn, 18th Operations Support Squadron dissimilar air combat-training wing chief.

Southern Beach provides U.S. and Japanese personnel the opportunity to integrate as an allied force to better understand each other’s strengths, practice fluidity and execute the mission of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

There were a multitude of aircraft from different units coming together. Aircraft from Kadena included the F-15C Eagles, the KC-135 Stratotanker, the E-3 Sentry, the HH-60 Pave Hawks and the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon. Japanese Air Self-Defense Force aircraft included the F-2, the F-15J and the E-767.

Coburn said the Southern Beach exercise involves close coordination between all forces involved, from mission planning, to execution to debrief.

While U.S. Air Force and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force often train together in similar Southern Beach exercises, the inclusion of the U.S. Navy’s P-8A added a unique dimension to this event.

Patrol Squadron Ten (VP-10) participated in exercise "Southern Beach" with a P-8A Poseidon loaded with two AGM-84Ds. 

"Exercising the full spectrum of maritime patrol in a joint bi-lateral exercise like this underpins the importance of conducting air interdiction and maritime strike,” said Cmdr. Marc Hines, Task Group 72.2 and VP-10 commander.

Additionally, Cmdr. Hines said, "The relationships we create from mission planning to execution are invaluable in strengthening our international and joint partnerships, ensures a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

The bilateral training not only increases bilateral response capability, but also serve as demonstration of the mutual U.S. and Japanese commitment to maintaining regional stability.

In a recent bilateral statement released after a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the two nations said the U.S.-Japan Alliance remains the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. The statement added that the U.S. and Japan will continue to deepen cooperation to address a  range of emerging security challenges.

While such cooperation is nothing new to the men and women serving at the keystone of the Pacific, it takes renewed significance as the U.S. and Japan reaffirm their close ties amid the modern challenges facing regional security.

“President Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida, as well as exercises like Southern Beach show how closely we are working with our Japanese partners,” said Coburn. “The U.S. Air Force and JASDF have always worked very closely with each other, and I’d like to see that continue.”