A Japan Air Self-Defense Force member briefs Airmen from multiple countries from the Indo-Asia Pacific Region on JASDF’s aeromedical evacuation capabilities during a base tour on Komaki Air Base, Japan, Sept. 6, 2017. JASDF personnel can transport up to three people at a time within the aeromedical evacuation container. (Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Representatives and specialists from multiple nations gathered at Gifu AB, Japan from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6, 2017 for the 2017 C-130 Logistics and Safety Symposium. This is the 4th annual symposium and the first time being held at Gifu, the second oldest Air Base in the world.
The event had Air Force representatives from eight countries: Japan, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the U.S.
“This is a good opportunity for all of the nations within this area of responsibility to get to know each other, build partnerships and have a basic understanding of how each nation`s Air Force operates when completing missions with a C-130 aircraft,” said Maj. Michael Pepper, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Logistics Plans Division exercises and engagement planner. “Despite the fact that each country has different variations of the aircraft, everyone was able to give a unique perspective that the others may not have. This helps with interoperability and understanding so that when we need to complete a mission together, it`s much easier for us to come together and work efficiently.”
The symposium is a Pacific Command initiative aimed at increasing relationships and interoperability between regional partners; it specifically focused on bringing C-130 experts together to discuss and learn innovative safety, supply and maintenance standards, while also highlighting shortfalls and finding productive solutions with managing the world's longest continuous production run aircraft.
Participants gave and received briefings on maintenance, logistics and safety during the symposium. They also opened the floor for Q&A sessions after each briefing.
According to Pepper, each country`s aircraft have unique capabilities and the basis behind having members from each country give briefings on the C-130 is to create dialog between the nations to spur discussion.
“It was very interesting to see the differences in the way that each country manages their maintenance, while at the end of the day the commonalities of the safety we do to ensure the aircraft is taken care of is the most important part for all of the countries,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Stratton, 374th Maintenance Group quality assurance chief inspector. “Knowing that they have been involved in the same missions means that we need to work together to get those missions done.”
Upon completion of the briefings, the Airmen received a tour of Gifu and Komaki Air Bases. At Gifu, the group saw the base`s warehouse and air development test wing; while at Komaki, the group toured the 1st Tactical Airlift Wing.
“The tours gave us a good perspective and insight on how the Japanese conduct their maintenance operations for the participants to take back to their respective units,” Pepper said. “We, in the U.S. Air Force, stress safety; everything has its place and purpose for us to efficiently complete our missions. The JASDF personnel have it down to a science, and that is what I`m going to stress to the other countries. Because they set the prime example of how to organize your equipment and how methodic they are. I hope that this will be the participant’s biggest takeaway of how efficient they are.”
As the event came to a close the Airmen involved agreed that they will take what they have learned and bring it to their home squadrons.
“What stood out to me was the emphasis the JASDF Airmen put in on shine and taking care of the work place, keeping everything clean and having a place for everything,” Stratton said. “All of this is very important in the maintenance world because of the inherent danger and potential foreign object debris, so it`s something I think we can learn from them and maybe be a little more careful when it comes to those things.”