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USFJ commander focuses on bilateral operations

by Airman 1st Class John D. Partlow
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/15/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- With the Department of Defense's rebalance of military forces to the Asia Pacific region, the focus on bilateral operations is more critical now than ever, said the new U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander.

"We plan to increase our bilateral and multilateral cooperation throughout the Western Pacific," said Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, who became the USFJ and 5th Air Force commander July 20.

Angelella noted there will be more opportunity for joint training, and that in the future for the rebalance to the Pacific, the U.S. will send more of its newest equipment and highly trained crews.

The current deployment of F-22 Raptors to Okinawa and the ongoing deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft are prime examples of this.

"I think you'll see more of that in the future and also more opportunities for interoperability with our Japanese partners," the commander said.

With the mission focus shift, several challenges may present themselves along the way -- one of them being the global economy, Angelella explained.

"Because the global economy is not doing well right now, we're going to have to rely on a lot of the other partners to maintain peace and stability in the region," he said. "There will be more bilateral operations and more multilateral cooperation in areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."

Lessons learned from previous disaster relief efforts, like Operation Tomodachi in March 2011, will help build the continuity for the future, the general said.

"We are going to have to institutionalize what we learned during the Great East Japan Earthquake last year," he said. "There was some great work between the forces and the components of U.S. Forces Japan, and also some great work between U.S. Forces Japan and the Jieitai, the Japanese Self Defense Force.

"They did a great job taking the lead of the relief effort, and we teamed with them and other nations," Angelella said. "So what we want to do is institutionalize (those lessons learned) as we transform our staffs."

With this being his fifth assignment to Japan, Angelella relies on his previous experiences here to help shape and influence the way he leads in the future.

"It's really all about relationships," he said. "Throughout those years (stationed in Japan), I developed a lot of close relationships with civilians and the military in Japan at the highest levels, so I think we're going to be able to get right to work and continue our cooperation and strengthen our alliance even more."

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