NEWS | March 27, 2018

Chitose, Misawa Bilateral Exchange Airmen Reunite Year Later

By Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Ten Japan Air Self-Defense Force Airmen from the 2nd Fighter Wing at Chitose Air Base, Japan, took part in the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Career Training at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 21.

Stemming back to 1995, the semi-annual exchange program strengthens bilateral ties by bringing the two nations closer as allies and friends.

The exchange encompassed a deeper look into the daily mission of the 35th Maintenance Group weapons section, phase maintenance, propulsions and the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

“Today's tour gave our American and Japanese Airmen the opportunity to interact and energize the critical bilateral bonds our two nations must maintain,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Geoff Robertson, the 35th Maintenance Group munitions interim flight chief. “The social interactions and friendships made today helped solidify the mantra of ‘One Team, One Fight,’ which is needed now more than ever.”

Although the program has only been around for 23 years, the U.S.-Japan alliance has since been pivotal in providing security to the Indo-Pacific region for over 70 years.

“This program not only strengthens international relations between our two countries but also the willingness and desire of Airmen to assist each other when in need,” Robertson stated. “Sometimes they struggle with language, but they always walk away with a better understanding of each other and have built the ties required to be successful in both friendships and in the defense of not only Japan but much of the Pacific if needed.”

“Communication is the foundation of the U.S.-Japan relationship,” echoed JASDF Warrant Officer Fujio Yamazaki, the 2nd FW base support group senior enlisted advisor. “It is vital we have this exchange program because in a wartime environment, we have to communicate with our U.S. Air Force counterparts.”

Last year, Airmen with the 35th Fighter Wing trekked to Chitose AB, on the island of Hokkaido, to take part in the 10-day bilateral training integration, experiencing JASDF life.

Nearly a year later, Chitose Airmen traveled to Misawa to experience U.S. military operations, strategies for mission accomplishment and further develop communication skills between the two nations.

“Last year, I taught [Misawa AB] Airmen about our operations,” said JASDF Senior Airman Minori Utano, a 2nd FW medical services technician. “This time I saw how the 35th FW operates and how the people are involved in aircraft operations.”

Despite the tour primarily focusing on displaying the base’s flying and maintenance operations, Utano found her favorite part of the day to seeing old friends.

“Lunch time was my favorite part because saw my American friends I met at the last exchange in Chitose,” said Utano. “It was a great opportunity to continue to strengthen our friendship and reaffirm the strong bonds we created between our two nations.”

After a day of touring various maintenance facilities, the JASDF warrant officer said he was thoroughly impressed with the Airmen of the 35th FW.

“It was great to see how organized, efficient and detailed-orientated the U.S. operations are,” said Yamazaki. “I am very appreciative of the hospitality we were given and want to continue this program to strengthen our bond with our U.S. partners. We have the availability and are ready to host more U.S. Airmen at Chitose.”