5-Nov-2013 Source: US Marine Corps
“We are so sad that the exercise got cancelled, but it was still good training,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Kazuyuki Morita, senior enlisted of the Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer Ise (DDH-182), a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel.
The training mentioned by Morita would have pertained to a United States MV-22 Osprey landing on the JS Ise while it was at sea near Kochi prefecture.
The JS Ise is a Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer and shares that title with one other vessel, the DDH-181 Hyuga.
The JDS Hyuga participated in Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013 in June, where it was the first Japanese vessel to have an American MV-22 Osprey land on it. The Ise would have been the second Japanese ship to land an American Osprey, and the first to accomplish such in the Pacific region.
“This could have been the very first case for us to work with the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Morita. “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I think it will be more frequent that we work with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in consideration of the possible disasters, such as the mega quake outside of Kochi or other (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) missions.”
While the ship landing didn’t take place, JMSDF personnel spent weeks preparing for the exercise.
“We were fully prepared to communicate with the U.S. Ospreys when they landed upon this ship,” said Morita. “Communication is what we have to focus on more, to better study and better coordinate for the future to improve our skills to increase interoperability with each other.”
Morita mentioned that the JSDF currently uses the CH-47 Chinook, and that integrating the Osprey would dramatically improve rescue capabilities in disaster contingencies.
“A great example of what enhancement the MV-22 will add to bilateral security would be the shortening of time to save a life during an HA/DR mission,” said Morita. “The Osprey has a higher payload capacity, and can fly faster and farther. In an HA/DR mission, time is critical. Shortening the response time is a great enhancement and addition the MV-22 will make to the Asia-Pacific region.”
With the addition of the U.S. Ospreys, the JDS Ise will be better prepared to operate in key roles to serve as an aviation hub for urgent care.
Maj. Paul T. Bartok, a liaison officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in DB13 and mentioned that while the exercise in San Diego was similar, performing it in the Pacific brings a different aspect to the training.
“This makes it more realistic to the Japanese and brings it home for them,” said Bartok. “Doing the exercise in the states was great and gave us a lot of good training opportunities for the scenario and the training areas, but doing the exercise here in Japan shows a more realistic scenario for the Japanese and a more realistic scenario of us working together, using the same areas we would be doing certain HA/DR missions in.”
While DB13 proved that cooperation between the Japan Self Defense Force and U.S. Marine Corps is possible, continual training helps to further enforce the quality and capabilities of communication between the two countries.
“As with any bilateral exercise, it’s important to work together in exercises before you have to work together in a real-life scenario,” said Bartok. “By doing these exercises, we know that we can work together, we’re already familiar with each other’s tactics and procedures, so in a real world scenario, we can more easily work together.”