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Kadena, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Airmen Strengthen Bilateral Ties through Aviation Training Relocation

By 18th Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 15, 2015

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Airmen with the 623rd Air Control Flight completed training at Fukuoko, Japan's Kasuga Direction Center while taking part in an Aviation Training Relocation exercise at Tsuiki Air Base, Japan.

More than 30 Japan Air Self-Defense Force airmen supported operations from the direction center alongside the 12 Airmen from the 623rd ACF.

Bilateral training promotes interoperability throughout the Pacific and helps the U.S. support and defend its territory, allies and partners.

"A lot goes on behind the scenes to make bilateral training a success," said Lt. Col. Daniel Biehl, 623rd ACF commander.

The 623rd ACF team arrived a week prior to the start of the ATR in order to provide the JASDF controllers with required academic and simulator training prior to live aircraft control.

"The JASDF controllers are excellent," Biehl said. "However, they provide a very different style of command and control."

"We have to make the most of these training events to set the stage for future success," said Capt. Alison Cruise, 623rd ACF chief of training. "The exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures is absolutely vital to bilateral integration during contingency operations. We certainly made great progress this year."

The 623rd also strengthened bonds with JASDF personnel by sharing meals off-duty. Biehl organized a tea party where members from both units shared snack foods popular in their respective cultures with each other. 

"Spending time off-duty with the JASDF at events like the Izakaya and the tea party made me feel closer to my Japanese counterparts," said Staff Sgt. James Anderson, 623rd ACF weapons director technician. "It made operations in the direction center feel much more like a single team working toward a shared goal."

After the final mission was complete, the 623rd ACF and Kasuga Direction Center staff faced off in a traditional game of kickball. While the 623rd ACF left as champions, the promise of a rematch ensures these two units will soon be reunited.