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Australian Defence Force Academy visits Kadena AB, learns about the Battle of Okinawa

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Mark Waycaster, Marine Corps Community Services tour guide, explains the Battle of Okinawa to cadets from the Australian Defence Force Academy while standing on a former Japanese machine gun bunker at Naha, Okinawa, Japan, April 9, 2019. The Kadena Air Base history office collaborated with MCCS to provide tours of battlefields across the island as well as a few military bases for the ADFA cadets. Fostering key partnerships is vital especially in the incredibly vast Pacific area of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) --

Fifteen members from the Australian Defence Force Academy recently spent time at Kadena Air Base, learning about the 18th Wing’s capabilities and visiting historical sites.

The cadets and cadre were hosted by the 18th WG’s History office during their tour of base and the surrounding battlefields from World War II.

“The students and staff from the Australian Defence Force Academy visited Okinawa to get a detailed and hands-on look at the U.S. military experience during the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted roughly 83 grueling days from April 1 to June 23, 1945,” said William McEvoy, 18th WG chief historian.

The ADFA comprised of cadets from all three Australian military services.

“Having all the military service organizations present for this military history tour was very important for us because this is the first time the Australian Defence Force Academy has come to Okinawa,” said Australian Army Lt. Col. Ross Cable, Australian Army Knowledge Group historian and Australian Armored Corps officer. “There is so much history across the Asia-Pacific region.”

Cable explained how excited he was to visit Kadena AB because it’s a fantastic location for a battlefield tour. Many of the Japanese defense locations and fortifications are still intact and the terrain is largely unchanged since the war.

“Okinawa is one of the best locations we can take our cadets to see historical battle sites,” Cable explained. “We can stand on Kadena Air Base and can see the exact invasion beaches, airfield and ground through which the American forces attacked. The same holds true for other battlefields like Hacksaw Ridge. Plus, it’s extremely affordable and easy to travel here as opposed to other battlefield locations around the Pacific.”

One of the priorities of Kadena AB is readiness and warfighting integration, which McEvoy echoed during his tours.

“Always training and being prepared is key for the U.S. forces here,” he explained. “It’s extremely likely if there’s another major conflict, the United States will be fighting it with our Australian allies. Readiness along with joint integration and operability come when we work together at every opportunity—be it combat operations or historical site tours. If we understand what happened before, we can work to duplicate what worked and avoid making the same mistakes. Since the U.S. is such a strong ally with Australia and have fought alongside them before in the Pacific, we should continue to work with them now and in the future.”

The praise of the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Australia was also emphasized by Cable.

“We are also very fortunate to have fantastic support from our U.S. allies,” he stated. “The U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps here have been courteous and helpful in assisting us. Both of our guides are true experts of the battlefields and have taught our cadets so much about the military history here. Australia stood with the United States during World War II and has in every major conflict since, it’s a partnership we care deeply about. It’s important to also ensure a high-degree of interoperability and understanding as we move forward to meet the challenges we face together.”

Fostering key partnerships is vital especially in the incredibly vast Pacific area of operations.

“This type of training opportunity gives us all a chance to get to know each other and learn from each other in an educational, but low-stress, environment and is key to helping foster trust and familiarity between the two nations,” McEvoy said. “It also gives us a chance to share stories and become friends. For the history office, we hold and add to the institutional memory of Kadena AB and the (U.S. Air Force). We have a duty to not only share our knowledge and data with American military leadership, but also share it with our partners and allies.”

The Kadena AB history office collaborated with Marine Corps Community Services to provide tours of battlefields across the island as well as a few military bases.

“As I was explaining to the cadets while we drove around the Kadena airfield, the primary lesson for them to learn here is the sheer capabilities of the U.S. Forces and think about how they will integrate with them in the future,” Cable said. “Kadena Air Base is extremely impressive. The amount of equipment and people along with the high rate of readiness here, really shows how committed the U.S. is to the defense of Okinawa.”

The cadets and staff left Okinawa with knowledge and memories they can take to their military units over the next few years.

“This was a terrific experience for everyone involved and I am honored to have been a part of it,” McEvoy said.

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