by Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris
18th Wing Public Affairs
3/14/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S.
Air Force and Army service members hosted an NCO exchange here March 3,
giving seven Japan Air Self-Defense Force members a chance to work with
their U.S. counterparts.
The JASDF Airmen were each paired with Kadena Airmen or Soldiers in
their respective jobs for almost two weeks. This allowed the JASDF
Airmen to learn firsthand about their job here and practice their
"During these exchanges, JASDF members report for duty at Kadena Air
Base and spend the day learning and experiencing the personal and
professional lifestyles of our U.S. members," said U.S. Air Force Master
Sgt. Erick Lizarraga, 18th Wing assistant JASDF bilateral coordinator.
"The objective is to give our NCOs an opportunity to create long-lasting
relationships with the JASDF members and experience similarities or
differences that exist between our host nation self-defense and our
One pair of Aerospace Ground Equipment NCOs during the exchange found
their jobs had more similarities than they would have thought
"Our job is basically the same with a few small differences. We maintain
nonpowered and powered AGE, while they only work on powered AGE, but we
could both work on a generator together easily," said Tech. Sgt. Jason
Blocker, 18th AGE craftsman. "The language barrier was an issue at
first, but we quickly worked out key words to talk to each other to
accomplish our tasks."
In order to be chosen for this program, JASDF members submitted a
package, which was then sent to a review board to ensure requesters met
proper rank and job requirements. Finally, the top performers were
selected to participate in this exchange.
While the program was mainly about JASDF and U.S. military working
together, they also found time during the weekend to connect and get to
know each other better at a local indoor sports and gaming complex and
by playing volleyball together.
At the end of the exchange, JASDF Tech. Sgt. Daisuke Mitsunaga, Iwo To
Air Base Group AGE craftsman said, "I've enjoyed being able to work
together with my counterpart and be able to accomplish a similar
mission. The exchange has been a good experience."
The NCO exchange program between Kadena Airmen and JASDF started in
2001. Now, after 14 years, it has grown to encompass the Army and may
soon add U.S. Navy and Marines to the program.
"NCO exchanges with JASDF members are not new to the wing," Lizarraga
said. "We've had exchanges with JASDF for more than a decade now;
however, they are beginning to increase in volume and diversification."
Lizarraga went on to say the goal is to host two exchanges annually at
Kadena, and JASDF, in-turn, will host two to three exchanges each
year. JASDF recently hosted one exchange at Naha Air Base, Japan, and
last year, members were sent once to mainland Japan for NCO exchanges
with JASDF, which were great successes.