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Bilateral training strengthens American, Japanese ties

by Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
18th Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2010 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- A group of Japan Air Self Defense Force enlisted members recently experienced the on- and off-duty life of an American Airman during a bilateral exchange program held at Kadena Air Base Feb. 12 to 18.

The exchange program, a 5th Air Force initiative established to bolster cultural and professional awareness between Air Force and JASDF members, paired seven Japanese military members with a Kadena AB Airman for one week, allowing them to spend time together both at work and at home.

"The JASDF members worked side-by-side with their sponsors to gain that team- building experience and have a better understanding of each others' jobs," said Master Sgt. Dennis O' Grady, the 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron inspection section chief and the bilateral exchange coordinator for Kadena AB.

"I have been training them on how the process works for tracking and storing equipment here," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Strickland, of the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron and a sponsor.

Many of the Japanese airmen said they were impressed by what they saw.

"I was amazed the U.S. has so many shops under the supply section," said JASDF Sgt. Daisuke Morooka.
"I had a chance to see the disaster support equipment, including the new gas masks and chemical gear."

The language barrier presented a challenge to many of the participants, but they discovered various ways to convey messages while working together.

"During our visit, I tried speaking English to my sponsor and then used hand signals," said JASDF Sergeant Takuya Nishibo. "I hope to improve my English through this exchange and learn the differences and similarities of work between the U.S. military and JASDF."

Kadena AB Airmen and their Japanese guests participated in various activities ranging from shopping and exercising to sampling American cuisine.

"It's been a very good experience working together and knowing each other on a personal basis," said Tech. Sgt. John Roddy, a 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist. "And more importantly, for both sides to understand each other's job in case we have to work together in future operations."

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