YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Patrolling the base just as they’ve always done. The sound of the rain a constant, the fog on the windows lingering. That’s when the call came. It may not have been from the same familiar voices. However, it came from the voice of an ally and that’s all that matters to the Defenders of the 374th Security Forces Squadron.
“When that call comes, we respond. It’s what we do,” said Airman 1st Class Alec Williams, 374th SFS patrolman. “Whether it’s for our own or for our partners from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), we need to be there for one another and that’s exactly what we did throughout this exercise.”
The exercise was Guard and Protect 2019, a training scenario designed for each major U.S. installation in Japan to match with a respective JGDSF Division to ensure adequate security of facilities and areas across Japan in the event of contingency operations.
“Here at Yokota, we were matched with the JGSDF 1st Company, 34th Infantry Regiment out of Camp Itazuma in Gotemba, Japan and ran the exercise on Feb. 27-28, 2019,” said Master Sgt. Julius Howard III, 374th SFS chief of standardization and evaluations. “With our JGSDF allies manning strategic positions around the flightline and our personnel doing the same, we designed a variety of situations to test our interoperability.”
With teams challenged with handling sniper fire, individuals challenging gates, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense scenarios, the personnel manning the defensive fighting positions (DFP) relied on the actions of one another to ensure the security of Yokota.
“We wanted to establish an ability to not only to communicate, but to coordinate with our partners and I think exercise was a success from that standpoint,” said Howard.
In testing that coordination the members of the 374th SFS were able to create even more trust in their partners from the JGSDF.
“Whenever we get the chance to exercise with our partners, cohesion is what it is all about,” said Senior Airman Clifton Carter, 374th SFS patrolman. “When we exercise we create that trust. We build on the framework of previous exercises to better understand each other. They showed me how much I can rely on them and I hope we did the same for them. I know if we ever needed them to defend this base, together we could do just that.”