by Capt. Jason Medina
U.S. Forces Japan Public Affairs
9/27/2006 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN) -- Airmen from 5th Air Force here sponsored a tactics symposium Sept. 26 to 27, bringing together 30 representatives from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and U.S. military components in Japan.
A first of its kind, the event allowed captains and majors from operations-related specialties to discuss insights on regional threats and tactics. Topics included real-world contingencies, intelligence gathering and improving interoperability.
"Japan is our closest ally in the region," said Lt. Col. Robert Rogers, 5th Air Force deputy director of operations and event planner, "This event is a unique chance to exchange operational perspectives with the various flying units based in the Pacific."
Attendees also discussed training issues. Two bilateral exercises in particular -- Cooperative Cope Thunder in Alaska and Cope North on Guam -- offer an advantage that JASDF pilots don't have at home: live fire ranges. Further, exercises give participants the opportunity to operate in large-force employment scenarios in controlled environments.
American and Japanese Airmen hailed the symposium as a success, and recognized its positive impact to professional development and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
"This tactics symposium is an innovative way to allow captains and majors to share ideas, build personal relationships with their bilateral counterparts, and truly enhance combat power -- one plus one equals much more than two," said Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Reheiser, 5th Air Force vice commander. "Japan is a full partner with the United States, and we can learn much from each other."
The interaction between operators has come a long way. In a three-year assignment to Yokota 27 years ago, the general said he met with his Japanese counterpart once.
Today, U.S. and Japanese Airmen training, working and flying together is more common. Misawa Air Base shares a flightline with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force unit.
"We participate in a couple bilateral exercises throughout the year," said Capt. Greg Barasch from Misawa's 14th Fighter Squadron weapons section. "Flying with the Japanese F-4s (interceptors) and F-2s (multi-role aircraft) is a definite stepping stone toward bilateral interoperability."