CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – Elements of Naval Medical Forces Pacific (NMFP) recently traveled to Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, and began participating in Exercise Keen Sword 23 (KS23) on November 12.
Keen Sword 23 is a biannual Field Training Exercise (FTX), led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, scheduled by the US Indo-Pacific Command and sponsored by the US Pacific Fleet. The joint/bilateral FTX runs until November 20. KS23 is designed to enhance Japan-U.S. combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening bilateral relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of allies and partners in the region.
As a feature of this year, Keen Sword, NMFP deployed a small element from Naval Base San Diego Headquarters, and Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) 150-Alpha, Camp Pendleton, Calif., to support medicine-related exercise scenarios at Camp Foster, Marine Corps Base SD Butler.
During KS23, the NMFP command and control concept will test the joint and bilateral integration of Navy medicine with a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force medical base in Okinawa, units from the III Marine Expeditionary Force and other Navy units to refine interoperability with partners in the region.
“Keen Sword is a tremendous opportunity for our Navy Medicine Team to exercise a new concept of medical command and control in support of task forces,” said Rear Admiral Guido F. Valdes, Commanding Officer of NMFP . “Additionally, our EMF deployed in Keen Sword is a concrete example that we are a key component in providing deployable health services that enable stronger alliances and partnerships.”
Expeditionary medical facilities are positioned globally to support combat operations, contingencies and exercises worldwide. An electromagnetic field can be prepositioned and remain inactive until it is requested; or deployed with a unit from a muster base.
Okinawa hosts a pre-positioned facility, one of five, that can accommodate a deployed scalable EMF.
The EMF is a Marine Medicine platform and has a three-fold mission:
• Provide health services support to military operations involved in medical stability as expeditionary forward functional components.
• Deployment as part of the Fleet Commander’s land projection to support the Geographic Combatant Commanders theater plan policies.
• Provide medical capability ashore in situations where a sustained land campaign is envisioned for a maritime expeditionary force, or for limited contingencies involving naval forces.
Recently, the EMF-150, as part of Task Force 75 Commander, deployed to Guam in 2020 and played an important role in the DoD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Keen Sword, the EMF-150-Alpha will provide a forward deployed theater hospitalization capability as requested by the component/combatant commander in support of task forces,” Captain(N) said. Elizabeth Smith, commanding officer of EMF 150-Alpha, which is part of Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Camp Pendleton, NMFP. “EMF leadership participated early in the exercise planning process and refined the requirement to provide the lightest, lightest capability possible while meeting the requirement and capability to enable a enhanced survivability for all U.S. partners and allies.”
Military medical platforms are categorized by military health system care roles to describe battlefield medical and health capabilities.
The Army organizes the health services support capability in theater, communications area, and home station to provide Roles 1-4 medical care.
The Role 4 capability represents the most definitive medical care available, such as that provided by military medical treatment facilities based in the United States and overseas.
EMF is a role 3 theater inpatient capability, which includes everything from surgery, ancillary services, maintenance capabilities, and specialty services like neuro, urology, and even OB-GYN if the mission requires it.
These assets typically act in a general support role to an entire theater rather than a single unit.
Role 1 units are usually a direct support capability supporting their owning unit, while role 2 units can operate in a general support or direct support role.
“This exercise provides an opportunity to further operationalize Navy medicine platforms under a new medical command and control concept to deliver the right care, at the right time, in all conditions,” Smith said.
Naval Medical Forces Pacific provides oversight of 10 NMRTCs, on the West Coast and Pacific Rim, which direct, train and equip medical forces, primarily at military treatment facilities. The NMFP also oversees eight research labs that provide cutting-edge medical and health research to improve the deployment readiness and survivability of our joint forces.