Warship Watch. Canada joins largest-ever US-Japanese war exercise

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan led Japanese destroyers and two Canadian warships in a combat readiness war game that began on October 29 and ended on November 8.

Japan and the United States reportedly mobilized some 57,000 sailors, marines and members of their air forces for “Keen Sword” – the biggest joint war game in Japanese history. Japan’s contingent in the Keen Sword exercise represented a fifth of the nation’s armed forces. In the 2016 simulated air combat and amphibious landings exercise, the joint military personnel was estimated to be some 11,000 less, Reuters reported.

Canada’s participation

Keen Sword was joined by two unidentified Canadian warships. Canada’s defence attache in Japan, Captain Hugues Canuel, said that Canadian participation reflects the desire of the Trudeau Liberal government to have a military presence in Asia.

The war game is noteworthy also because, according to the US Navy, this was the first time Canadian Navy ships took part in the maritime portion of the biannual exercise.

While the US Navy did not specify which RCN ships were taking part, it is likely that Halifax-class frigate HMCS Calgary (which started a five-month Asia-Pacific deployment in July this year) was one of the ships to join the amphibious exercise, navaltoday.com reported.

The other Canadian ship was likely the auxiliary oil replenishment ship M/V Asterix which headed for Australia and exercise Kakadu 2018 after completing its inaugural participation in the Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in the summer. RIMPAC, involving 25 countries and staged by the US Seventh Fleet, was the world’s largest naval military exercise in history; over 1,000 Canadian sailors, soldiers, and aviators participated.

In mid-November 2017 the HMCS Chicoutimi, a Victoria-class hunter-killer (SSK) submarine, navaltoday.com reported, became the first non-US/Japanese naval vessel to join the “Annual Exercise” – a premier bilateral exercise carried out between the navies of Japan and the US, which took place in the waters surrounding Okinawa.

While a hue and cry is being raised about the danger of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant to the U.S. and its “democratic institutions” and the arrest by Canada in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer as a matter of “the rule of law,” Canada’s military is effectively subordinate to the U.S. military and U.S. interests, while Canada’s economy is being more and more integrated into the U.S. war machine and even the judiciary is being called on to enforce U.S. legal interpretations of illegal and unilateral U.S. sanctions which provide the justification for the arrest. This agenda is being imposed behind the backs of the Canadian people. In 2013, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced at the Halifax International Security Forum that Canada had signed a still secret protocol to join Obama’s Asia Pivot strategy aimed at China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. [1] Five years later, how the escalation of the U.S. trade war is being accompanied by the escalation of U.S. war games and military-naval deployments in the Pacific can be seen by all.

Following the U.S. Summit on Korea in January hosted by foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in Vancouver, the HMCS Chicoutimi was deployed to operate off the coast of Korea with the JMSDF and the US Navy during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Meanwhile at home the Canadian monopoly media openly ridiculed the striving of the two Koreas to field a unified delegation as an important symbol of a “peace games” and the historical desire of the people for reunification.

Military observers from Britain and France, both non-Asian countries,  also monitored Keen Sword along with Australian and South Korean observers.

U.S. interoperability the centre of Keen Sword


The massive network of U.S. military bases

The biennial exercise is designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. and Japanese forces, according to a press release from the Naval News Service. Interoperability is a euphemism or codeword for subordination of allied forces to U.S. command and military doctrine in the name of efficiency and co-ordination.

“We are here to stabilize, and preserve our capability should it be needed. Exercises like Keen Sword are exactly the kind of thing we need to do,” Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, commander of the US carrier strike group, threatened during a news event.

Chief of US Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, in an innocuous and high-minded statement, declared that Keen Sword “remains an expression of the commitment of like-minded allies and partners to really see what we can do in terms of demonstrating advanced capabilities together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo Pacific.” The war games are hardly innocuous; amphibious landing exercises are classified as offensive maneouvres.

The USS Ronald Reagan was accompanied by eight other U.S. warships for anti-submarine warfare drills. Currently based in Yokosuka near Tokyo, the American supercarrier is the biggest U.S. warship in Asia, with a crew of some 5,000 sailors and a complement of around 90 F-18 Super Hornet fighters.

“The U.S.-Japan alliance is essential for stability in this region and the wider Indo Pacific,” stated Rear Admiral Hiroshi Egawa, commander of the Japanese ships involved in the exercise.

Protesters shout slogans during a rally against relocation of a U.S. military base in Naha, Okinawa prefecture

Japanese protesters shout slogans during a mass rally against relocation of a U.S. military base in Naha, Okinawa prefecture

This year’s iteration featured the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), which conducted amphibious landings in the vicinity of Guam and Tinian.

U.S. Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force worked side-by-side with the ARDB and served as “mentors and evaluators.“

Keen Sword is the latest in a series of Japanese power moves. Earlier this year Tokyo sent its largest warship, the helicopter carrier Kaga, on a two-month tour of the Indo Pacific region, including stops in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Singapore. Additionally, a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force ship, the helicopter carrier JS Izumo, and two destroyer escorts trained with carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea.

Beijing plans to spend a reported 1.11 trillion yuan ($160 billion) on its armed forces this year, according to Reuters. That figure is more than three times as much as Japan and only about a third of what the U.S. military will spend over the same period on the “defence” of the Japanese islands.

– Tony Seed with files from Reuters, Sputnik, and navaltoday.com


[1] Participants from Asian military forces in the 2018 U.S.-led Halifax War Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, held November 16-18 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

In previous conferences, the U.S. armed forces along with high-ranking Pentagon officers was represented by the commanders of U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Northern Command (NORAD/Homeland Security) and Supreme Allied Command, Europe, etc. The composition of this year’s delegation emphasized the concern of the U.S. and NATO with the naval front; China, the Indo-Pacific and Asia; and Africa. The U.S. military was represented by:

– Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Navy

– James Baker, Director of the Office of Net Assessment, U.S. Department of Defense

– Joseph Dunford, Jr., Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. and an adviser to President Donald Trump

– Philip Davidson, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

– Richard Berry, Special Assistant, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

– Katherine Graef, Logistics Director, Special Operations Command Africa, U.S. Special Operations Command (Africom)

– Karl Schultz, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

– Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Operations Distinguished International Fellow, U.S. Naval War College

– Janet Wolfenbarger, (retired) General, U.S. Air Force

Japanese participants:

Yohei Shimizu, International Policy Planning Section (J5), Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Tomohiko Madono, Deputy Director General, Defense Plans and Policy Department (J5), Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Hideo Suzuki, Director General for International Affairs, Bureau of Defense Policy, Ministry of Defense, Japan

Kansuke Nagaoka, Deputy Assistant Minister, Foreign Policy Bureau and Ambassador in Charge of Policy Planning and International Security Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Yukinari Hirose, President, National Institute for Defense, Japan

Soo Hyuck Lee, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Democratic Party

Kimihiro Ishikane, Ambassador of Japan to Canada, Embassy of Japan, Ottawa

Matake Kamiya, Professor of International Relations; Director & Senior Principal Research Fellow, National Defense Academy of Japan; Japan Forum on International Relations

Tetsuo Kotani, Senior Fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs Xenofon Koukoutas

Kenichiro Sasae, President and Director General, The Japan Institute of International Affairs

Hideshi Tokuchi, Senior Fellow, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan

Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Tokyo, Japan

Noboru Yamaguchi, Advisor; Professor, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation; International University of Japan


Won-ik Lee, Director-General of International Policy Bureau, Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Korea

Seung-Joo Baek, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Saenuri

Soo Hyuck Lee, Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, Democratic Party

Jaeho Hwang, Dean, Division of International Studies; Director, Global Security Cooperation Center, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Korea

Insun Kang, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, Chosun Ilbo, Korea


Yeh-chung Lu, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy; Vice President, National Cheng-chi University; Taiwan Foundation for Democracy


Teuku Faizasyah, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to Canada


Richard Javad Heydarian, Fellow, Stratbase-ADR Institute, Philippine and regional security


Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, India

Rita Manchanda, Research Director, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Nepal

Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, High Commission of India to Canada

Chaitanya Giri, Gateway House Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies, Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations

Lobsang Sangay, President, Central Tibetan Administration


Keng Yong Ong, Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore


Jules Adams, Deputy Chief of Staff, Australian Defence Force Headquarters

Andrew Shearer, Deputy Director-General, Office of National Assessments, Australia

Tony Davies, Vice Chief of Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force

1 Comment

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One response to “Warship Watch. Canada joins largest-ever US-Japanese war exercise

  1. Pingback: Mists over Hambantota – e-Con e-News

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