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NEWS | Oct. 24, 2016

Japanese Officer Engagement Program Strengthens US, Japan Interoperability

By Lance Cpl. Aaron Henson

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, IWAKUNI, Japan -- Japan Aviation Self-Defense Force cadets with the 12th Flight Training Wing, visited Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, as part of the Japanese Officer Engagement Program Oct. 19, 2016.

Held multiple times throughout the year, the engagement program aims to enhance the understanding and working relationships between the American and Japanese pilots.

During the visit, approximately 40 cadets from the JASDF Hōfu-kita Air Base toured the air station to see an F/A-18D Hornet assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 122 and a KC-130J Super Hercules belonging to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. Cadets also took turns flying a KC-130J flight simulator, learned about Marine Aircraft Group 12 and the air station.

“The Japanese Officer Engagement Program is a program where MAG-12 and MCAS Iwakuni sponsor Japanese training units to come here for a tour,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Thane Norman, Marine Aviation Training System Site and Operational Training Complex officer in charge with MAG-12. “They learned about the six functions of Marine aviation, how Marines run the Air Traffic Control tower and radar at MCAS Iwakuni as well as during expeditionary operations and FA-18 capabilities.”

Norman said these visits provide Marines and the JASDF an opportunity to enhance mutual relationships and create a shared understanding of how each other work.

“Having enhanced understanding of each other provides for a closer relationship and enhances our ability to operate in peace and combat operations in the future,” said Norman.

Visiting the air station provided the cadets with the opportunity to interact with U.S. Marines, gain a greater knowledge of their present condition in Japan and see how the Marine Corps utilizes their aviation capabilities at MCAS Iwakuni.

JASDF Airman 1st Class Ryuji Inaba, an aviation cadet with the 12th Flight Training Squadron, said these tours provide the cadets an easy way to understand the roles and abilities of the U.S. military and how important they are in Japan.

Norman said he hopes these tours continue in the future because they provide him an opportunity to directly engage with the future of Japanese aviation as well as his future aviation partners in Japan.

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