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NEWS | Nov. 6, 2023

US, Japan Guard and Protect 2023

By Yasuo Osakabe, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

What could be better than the defense of an installation by one nation? The defense of an installation by two nations working together.

Airmen from the 374th Security Forces Squadron trained with their security counterparts in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) during Exercise Beverly Morning 24-1, a two-week-long base readiness exercise meant to hone critical skills during realistic scenarios.

Yokota defenders paired up with JASDF Operations Support Wing and JGSDF 1st Division security personnel to test the combined force’s ability to protect Yokota’s war-fighting assets in a simulated crisis.

“This is the first time we are this deeply involved in Exercise Beverly Morning since we have been co-located [with the 374th Airlift Wing] in Yokota,” said JASDF Capt. Eiichi Okubo, JASDF Operations Support Wing chief of the security section. “I am proud of the training we accomplished with the USAF, because we had close communications during the event and responded to the looming threat together.”

Communication is critical in a heightened defense scenario, but language barriers between U.S. and allied forces can make cooperative maneuvers difficult. To combat this challenge, the 374th SFS consistently trains with JASDF and JGSDF security personnel on defense tactics, techniques, and procedures multiple times a year.

“We do not feel any inherent language barrier anymore,” said US Air Force Master Sgt. Deametrice McCranney, 374th SFS superintendent, standardization and evaluation, “Because we train so frequently with them and know each other so well, we have forged strong bonds with our JASDF and JGSDF counterparts.”

Throughout the readiness exercise, the Wing Inspection Team members staged events by opposing forces, including simulated breached base security attempts that challenged defenders to respond to realistic threats.

In testing coordinated actions, members of the 374th SFS honed logistical skills while deepening trust with their partners from the JASDF and JGSDF.

“Whenever we get the chance to exercise with our counterparts, cohesion is what it’s all about,” said McCranney. “When we exercise and train together, we create that trust. And we’ll keep building on the framework of previous exercises to better understand each other. If we ever needed them to help defend Yokota, we would work as a team and eliminate any threat.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Guard and Protect agreement, a bilateral pact guaranteeing JASDF and JGSDF security augmentation at U.S. installations throughout Japan during heightened defense postures. Continued training between U.S. and Japanese forces ensures both nations’ defenders are able to uphold mutual commitments in times of critical need.