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NEWS | May 15, 2014

US Army Japan on Okinawa Builds Lasting Friendships with Japanese Ground Self Defense Force Officers

By Charles Steitz

 Eleven U.S. Army Officers were joined by their Japanese counterparts for a three day friendship cultural exchange focusing on Army organizations, physical fitness, promotions and information exchanges from March 12-14.

U.S. Soldiers participating were from the 10th RSG and the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery. They were joined by ten Japanese officers from the 51st Infantry Regiment, 15th Helicopter, Logistics, Engineering and Brigade units from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force.

"During the program, we noticed the differences between the U.S. and the Japanese, JGSDF mission and training requirements which improves our interoperability and cultural awareness," said Capt. Takehiro Oishi, chief liaison officer with the 15th Brigade, JGSDF. "This type of interaction provides both American and Japanese Soldiers unique opportunities to learn and become friends and colleagues by exchanging professional advice, phone numbers and email addresses. Throughout the years, I have witnessed our Soldiers staying in touch with their U.S. counterparts."

Each day ended with a robust conversation and interaction concerning how each service prepares for their mission.

Second Lt. Naomi Bjorkman, 10th RSG, intelligent section talked about the significance of this interaction.

"I think cultural exchanges are always beneficial for a variety of reasons. First of all they open our eyes to the way our partners see things in their own country. The fact we get to work alongside them means that we need to understand how they look at things in the military and the situation in the Pacific. Understanding a little bit more about their culture, learning more about their language as language always opens doors about understanding people from different places."

"The main take away is the example the Japanese officers have set as far as being interested in our Army culture. We need to turn it around and be just as interested in their culture. They have been so attentive and trying to learn everything we offer. Since we are hosting this program we remain excited for them to teach us in future exchanges," concluded Bjorkman.

The program concluded with a social evening dinner allowing the participants to relax and gain knowledge about the United States and Japan.

This article was originally published at: TORII STATION, Japan Article

- PACOM: (posted May 15 2014) -


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