MIGHTY TRENDING

13 photos from 'Keen Sword,' the Pacific exercises NATO drowned out

The news was filled with Trident Juncture, but the U.S. was also participating in Pacific war games known as Keen Sword, during which almost 60,000 troops practiced defending Japan in case of massive hostilities on that side of the world.

While most of the world was watching Trident Juncture, the massive NATO war games where 31 countries sent 50,000 participants and Russia responded with missiles and other provocations, the U.S. was participating in more war games on the other side of the world.

The U.S. and Japan sent a record number of troops to Keen Sword, Pacific war games to which Canada also sent ships and sailors.


The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, center left, and the Japanese helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga, center right, sail in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019 in the Philippine Sea, November 8, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters)

Keen Sword is focused on ensuring that Japan can defend its territory, and the U.S. and other allies take part to improve their ability to operate with the Japanese Self-Defense Force. Over the past few years, China's aggression in the region has increasingly shaped the narrative — but China is far from the only threat Japan faces.

An E-2D Hawkeye lands on the flight deck of the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 7, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)

Japan is deeply within range of North Korea's missiles and has an ongoing dispute with Russia over islands dating back to World War II.

Therefore, its annual hosting of Keen Sword is crucial. Japan sent 47,000 troops, about a fifth of its active military, and America sent 9,500 more. Canada sent two ships to the exercise.

U.S. Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5 fast rope from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter onto the USS Ronald Reagan during Keen Sword 19 in the Philippine Sea, November 1, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano)

The Japanese forces carry a lot of American hardware, everything from F-35s to Apache helicopters to Aegis missile defense systems. But Japan has still felt the need to further expand their military capabilities, standing up amphibious assault forces and increasing their ability to rapidly deploy with forces such as paratroopers.

The forces practiced these marine and airborne operations as well as submarine hunting, combat search and rescue, and other operations. See more photos from the exercise below:

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade jumps from a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron over Hiju-dai drop zone, Oita prefecture, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.

(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force solider assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade performs personnel accountability on a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tsuiki Air Base, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.

(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade waits to jump from a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules over Hiju-dai drop zone, Oita prefecture, Japan, November 4, 2018, during Keen Sword 19.

(U.S. Air Force Yasuo Osakabe)

Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander of Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 7, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)

U.S. Air Force pararescue specialists assigned to the 31st Rescue Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, charge land during a combat search and rescue training near Misawa Air Base, Japan, October 31, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

Sailors perform preflight checks on an E/A-18G Growler on the flight deck of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during exercise Keen Sword 19, November 1, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5 ready themselves for training during Keen Sword 19.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano)

U.S. Airmen stand in front of an E-3 Sentry during Exercise Keen Sword 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan, October 29, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Seefeldt)

A Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine participates in Exercise Keen Sword with Submarine Group 7 and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors and staff. For the submarine force, the exercise was an opportunity to demonstrate how both countries' submariners would detect, locate, track and engage enemy assets.

(U.S. Navy Chief Electronics Technician Robert Gulini)

U.S. and Japanese ships maneuver during a photo event at the end of Keen Sword 19 on November 8, 2018.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters)