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NEWS | July 7, 2014

Japanese Soldiers Visit U.S. Army Alaska

By Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith 4/25th IBCT Public Affairs

 Leaders with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force visited paratroopers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, during a subject-matter expert exchange event June 24.

Col. Akira Miyazaki, an education and training department chief for the JGSDF, led the team from Japan to observe paratroopers carrying out airborne sustainment training and pathfinder operations. Both forces used their time together to share insight into the way they train and execute various missions and airborne operations.

Army 1st Lt. Branton Miller, a platoon leader with Blackjack Troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, served as the guest's escorting officer.

Miller, who is fluent in Japanese and grew up in Tokyo as a child, said the visit from the JGSDF soldiers brought the two nations' airborne communities together to share insights and experiences.

"It's a great opportunity for us," Miller said. "We get to see what the differences are between how we do our airborne operations and the kind of training they do. It's also good to work with them as Pacific partners. We get to learn about their training and their military and the types of training they are interested in doing with us."

In addition to his childhood experiences, Miller, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, spent a semester abroad at the JGSDF's National Defense Academy while at West Point.

"They were very kind and very hospitable while I was there, so I'm happy to be here now to help them out and be a part this," Miller said.

Army Staff Sgt. Adam Toland, a jumpmaster with the 1-40th Cavalry who shared some insight into the U.S. Army's airborne training with the team from Japan, said he was honored to host the guests and expand connections in the airborne community.

"It's a real good thing to share different outlooks on the airborne community, like how we share our different techniques and experiences," Toland said. "It's neat to see our similarities too."

During their visit to Alaska, Miyazaki and his team gained insight into the importance of the Spartan Brigade's ability to rapidly deploy in response to contingencies, and the necessity for professional, resilient leaders and paratroopers to execute the brigade's mission.
An example of recent events demonstrating the 4/25's abilities was Talisman Saber 2013, when paratroopers of the Spartan Brigade were airlifted via Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft for a 15-hour non-stop flight to conduct a jump into Australia.

The brigade again demonstrated its forced-entry abilities during Exercise Cobra Gold 2014. The 17-hour, non-stop flight to Thailand featured in-flight refuels and in-flight parachute rigging to carry out an airfield seizure operation, this time in the interest of a simulated humanitarian relief mission.

A forced-entry insertion north of the Arctic Circle recently showcased the Spartan Brigade's unique ability to operate in an extremely cold environment during Operation Spartan Pegasus, when paratroopers jumped into an area near Deadhorse in response to a simulated downed aircraft recovery mission.

The Spartan Brigade plans to enhance its mission set capabilities while working with the JGSDF in the future as it looks to participate in the upcoming, large-scale bilateral, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014 exercise.

In addition to visiting the Spartan Brigade, other scheduled events for the team from Japan included a trip to Fort Wainwright, and the Army's Northern Warfare Training Center at the Black Rapids Training Site near Delta Junction.

A highlight of their visit included celebrating the U.S. Army's birthday by participating in U.S. Army Alaska's annual Army Birthday run. They joined USARAK's commanding general, Army Maj. Gen. Michael Shields, for a four-mile esprit de corps run along Anchorage's Glenn Highway and participated in the birthday cake-cutting ceremony.

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