U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael S. Payne, the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy director, presents a gift to Japan Ground Self Defense Force Warrant Officer Ito Souetsu, sergeant major of 21st Infantry Regiment, during an education event held for the JGSDF at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 8, 2017. The event was held to educate JGSDF service members about the Marine Corps rank structure and the roles and duties of a senior enlisted service member. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales)
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force participated in an educational event hosted by the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy here Nov. 8.
The event was held to educate enlisted service members of the JGSDF about the Marine Corps rank structure and the roles and duties of a senior enlisted service member.
“It was an educational experience,” said Japan Ground Self Defense Force Warrant Officer Ito Souetsu, who is currently serving as the sergeant major of 21st Infantry Regiment. “We learned about the Marine Corps ranks, such as the difference between the sergeant major and master gunnery sergeant route.”
After the classes, JGSDF service members participated in a tour of the SNCO Academy and shared lunch with U.S. Marines.
“I learned a lot from this event, and I am sure that JGSDF members that participated learned a lot from the Marines too,” said Souetsu. “I hope that the Marines will learn something from us through these events as well. We have different cultures, but our mutual understandings lay the foundation for future operations and a stronger relationship.”
“These events strengthen our partnership because they’re going to take the knowledge and experience they had here with them,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Lewis Meza, the academics officer at the SNCO Academy. “Not only does it strengthen existing bonds, but it helps create new bonds.”
Souetsu and U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael S. Payne, the SNCO Academy director, exchanged gifts to express each side’s appreciation for each other.
“Through the years, I have built a great relationship with our III Marine Expeditionary Force-JGSDF liaison (Sgt. Maj. Toshiki Iwasaki), and with his help, we were able to set a room aside for the JGSDF at the academy and create this curriculum,” said Meza. “I am happy and honored to be part of this program, and I hope it continues in the future.”
The U.S. and Japan remain committed to strengthening their alliance, through bilateral training and combined events, to preserve security, stability, freedom and enduring prosperity in the Asia-Indo-Pacific region.