KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena Air Base partnered with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the 336th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and 391st FS, Mountain Home, Idaho, to complete Exercise Southern Beach May 16-18, 2023
“Exercise Southern Beach is all about working with our joint and bilateral partners in order to strengthen interoperability and practice the warfighting mentality through mission planning, execution, and debriefing together.” said Captain Alexander Stadlin, 18th Operation Support Squadron chief of wing plans and exercises.
The large force exercise primarily focused on offensive and defensive counter-air operations and personnel rescue.
F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 336th and 391st Fighter Squadrons, 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotankers, as well as JASDF and U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeyes all participated in the exercise. Additionally, JASDF brought their F-15J aircraft from Naha Air Base.
“This is a periodic training exercise conducted mainly by units stationed at Naha and those at Kadena Air Base,” said JASDF Capt. Shotaro Iwamoto, 204th Squadron, 9th Wing.
This is the third year that a majority of the mission sets took place during nighttime hours when low visibility becomes a factor.
“Everything’s more difficult when flying at night,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel Matchett, 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations for weapons and tactics. “Flying and fighting in the darkness requires a specific set of skills that must be maintained to ensure we will win, day or night.”
“We would like to conduct more training exercises like Southern Beach so that we can further develop our mutual trust,” Iwamoto said. “The Japan-U.S. alliance plays an important role in regional peace and stability, and I’m happy to work with team Kadena and defend Okinawa.”
Bilateral training builds trusting relationships among foreign and domestic forces and ensures the 18th Wing and host-nation allies are able to come together to effectively respond to demanding scenarios and execute high-end missions in defense of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.