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NEWS | Dec. 16, 2013

Komatsu Aviation Training Relocation Wraps Up

By Staff Sgt. Amber E. N. Jacobs 18th Wing Public Affairs

The 67th Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, concluded a week-long Aviation Training Relocation Program with Japan Air Self Defense Force members at Komatsu Air Base in western Japan, Dec. 14.

Approximately 90 Airmen and six F-15 Eagles were deployed from Kadena to Komatsu for the ATR where pilots conducted tactical air combat training with JASDF F-15s.

The ATR Program is designed to increase operational readiness and interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces while reducing the impact of training on local communities in southern Japan. One of the benefits of the ATR program is it promotes U.S. and JASDF squadrons to build relationships not only face-to-face but also in the air.

"ATRs bolster interoperability by getting face time, as opposed to sending emails or doing coordination over the phone or going to conferences and just sitting around the table talking about it," explained Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot, 67th Fighter Squadron commander. "Instead, we actually get to go out and do it."

This ATR mission was the first time Kadena fighter pilots have flown with the JASDF 303rd and 306th Tactical Fighter Squadrons in nearly 6 years.

"It was very positive." said Maj. Daniel Yerrington, 18th Wing chief of safety. "We were able to brief, fly, debrief together ... and all of that accumulated to where we were able to have a great success for interoperability."

The JASDF's 6th Wing at Komatsu Air Base, flies many aircraft including F-15s. Working side-by-side Kadena Airmen, mostly from the 67th Fighter Squadron, have had many opportunities to interact and see how JASDF Airmen accomplish a similar mission.

"We provided red-air for them (JASDF pilots)," Yerrington explained. "Despite the JASDF executing different tactics then we normally would, they proved to be successful, and I was impressed they did a good job overall."

Many career specialties spent time learning how their JASDF counterparts did the same job as well as showing them how they do their job. Airmen from the 18th Security Forces Squadron and 18th Operations Support Squadron even held demonstrations promoting an exchange between the two countries.

"I would say the overarching theme is ambassadorship," Fontenot said. "We ask a lot of our Japanese partners ... so this is one of many opportunities that our United States militaries has to engage with them and show them that we can come here, we can be good stewards, and when we leave here the goal is we leave a good impression."

While poor weather led to the cancellation of some training missions, the overall objective was met and the ATR was a success, according to Fontenot.

"It's a chance to practice our expeditionary skills," Fontenot explained. "We also work on building relationships, so if we ever integrate in a real-world scenario the faces are familiar and the tactics are familiar."

Although the training is important, the relationships and interactions will also be remembered as this ATR comes to an end.

This article was originally published at: http://www.kadena.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123374361
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