YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Military working dog (MWD) teams from the 374th Security Forces Squadron out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, participated in a bilateral MWD demonstration with Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces Security Guard Squadron security dog team during the 51st annual air show at Iruma Air Base, Japan, Nov. 3, 2019.
The air show played host to over 125,000 people and featured a bilateral canine demonstration as an event alongside the traditional aerial acrobatics common at most shows.
“The purpose of the demonstration was to showcase the bilateral relationship that we have with the JASDF,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Clark, 374th SFS MWD kennel master. “It allowed us to demonstrate some of the U.S. Air Force capabilities alongside our counterparts, as well as, build the comradery between us.”
The air show not only showed the capabilities and close relationship of both handlers and dogs, but also the joint training between both the 374th SFS and JASDF MWD teams that has occurred over the years.
“Most of their tactics and procedures have been taught by us,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Shannon, 374th SFS MWD handler. “Everything the JASDF displayed during the demonstration were things they trained on with us at our kennel.
“They come to Yokota every month so I know most of the guys that were working at the air show. It was great to hang out with them but the real treat was seeing how their training has progressed.”
This was the first time spectators witnessed the bilateral K9 demonstration at the Iruma air show, marking a new experience for all to enjoy.
“The roles are kind of reversing now,” said Clark. “The outcome of all the training we have done with JASDF is now we are going to their bases to support them as opposed to them just coming to ours to support us. It’s great to see how all that training we have done here at Yokota with the JASDF now translates into them being able to support their own home station missions.”
It is that transition from teacher and student to peers in the MWD community that has allowed the relationship between the U.S. and Japanese forces to reach a new level.
“It really is a friendship,” said Clark. “Coming together as a K9 family to do something amazing and demonstrate everybody’s capabilities, not just JASDF or AF but a joint capability of what we built together. That and showcasing that capability for a 125,000 people is an incredible feeling.
“It was amazing being there. Not only are we working counterparts, but we really consider them friends now after working and training with them for the last two to three years consecutively. We were there on official business but the relationship we have with our JASDF counterparts, it was like hanging out with your friends all day. Just training dogs, trading ideas and enjoying the experience. It was a great time.”