NEWS | Jan. 31, 2020

Keen Edge 2020 tests 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Ability to ‘Fight Tonight’

By Sgt. Raquel Birk 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

SAGAMIHARA, Japan -- Since the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s reactivation Oct. 16, 2018 at Sagami General Depot, the unit worked diligently to establish a fully-functional brigade ready and able to execute their wartime mission at any time.

Keen Edge 2020, a joint command post exercise conducted to increase combat readiness and synchronization between U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Forces Japan and the Japan Joint Staff to effectively defend Japan or respond to a regional crisis, served as the ultimate test to validate the brigade’s successful reestablishment.

“Keen Edge tested our Integrated Air and Missile Defense interoperability with our Japanese counterparts and other U.S. forces,” said Maj. Michael G. Lowefarmer, 38th ADE Brigade operations officer. “Our job as the 38th ADA Brigade was to conduct command and control of air defense assets in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility and provide both force operations and engagement operations.”

Representatives with 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, the brigade’s higher headquarters, served as external evaluators to assess how well the command works with their U.S. and Japan allies refining tactics, techniques and procedures in the event of a crisis or contingency during the week-long exercise at Sagami General Depot Jan. 24-31.

“The 38th ADA Brigade did exceptionally well considering how recently they reactivated,” said Maj. James B. Compton, 94th AAMDC G5 plans officer and exercise evaluator. “There were a lot of lessons learned for 38th ADA Brigade and what we [94th AAMDC] can do to better support subordinate units. The 38th ADA Brigade is executing a piece of a large-scale exercise where 94th AAMDC serves as the theater air defense coordinator. The bilateral exercise allowed us to rehearse all our roles simultaneously.”

U.S. Soldiers of all ranks and staff sections refined their military occupational specialties and fulfilled their part in the larger picture.

“I feel like we are getting better and better at what we do the more we practice our craft with real-world scenarios,” said Pvt. Anikka D. Marshall, brigade human resources specialist. “As a HR specialist, I learned to expedite casualty notifications more efficiently and give valid update briefs for participants.”

As a result of the brigade working through dynamic and diverse battle drills, and responding to a series of complex computer-based scenarios, Lowefarmer observed the “growth of the staff as a whole, growing closer as a team while developing shared knowledge of the mission set” as the exercise drew to a close.

The forward-stationed missile defense units in Japan and Guam continue to participate in regional and theater-level exercises building partnership capacity with allies in order to protect against an ever-increasing ballistic missile threat in the region. Today, they proved ready to ‘Fight Tonight.’