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Yokota AB strengthens partnerships through the Bilateral Exchange Program

Staff Sgt. Joseph Crinite, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130J Hercules communication and navigation craftsman, shows a dry bay panel on top of a C-130J Super Hercules to members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force during a Bilateral Exchange Program, Oct. 24, 2019, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Crinite, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130J Super Hercules communication and navigation craftsman, shows a dry bay panel on top of a C-130J to members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force during a Bilateral Exchange Program, Oct. 24, 2019, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The program is designed to strengthen the U.S.-Japan partnership and expand interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force through hands-on experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, explains how they perform pre-flight inspections inside a C-130J Super Hercules to Koku-Jieitai Tech. Sgt. Hideki Tanaka, 403rd Tactical Airlift Squadron loadmaster assigned with Miho Air Base, Japan, Oct. 22, 2019, at Yokota Air Base.

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, explains how the U.S. Air Force performs pre-flight inspections inside a C-130J Super Hercules to Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tech. Sgt. Hideki Tanaka, 403rd Tactical Airlift Squadron loadmaster, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 22, 2019. Frietze and Tanaka were participating in the Bilateral Exchange Program, in which Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Yokota AB airmen work together, learning from each other’s daily operations and building stronger relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a forklift into a C-130J Super Hercules during a Bilateral Exchange Program, Oct. 22, 2019, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a forklift into a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 22, 2019. Frietze was participating in the Bilateral Exchange Program, which gave Japan Air Self-Defense Force service members a chance to shadow their U.S. Air Force counterparts to see how Yokota AB conducts its mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Senior Airman Kenyan Francis, 374th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, monitors flightline activity with Koku-Jieitai Tech. Sgt. Shinichi Ishimoto, Air Traffic Control Group air traffic controller assigned with Komatsu Air Base, Japan, from the air traffic control tower, Oct. 23, 2019, at Yokota Air Base.

Senior Airman Kenyan Francis, 374th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, monitors flightline activity with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tech. Sgt. Shinichi Ishimoto, Air Traffic Control Group air traffic controller, from the air traffic control tower at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 23, 2019. Francis and Ishimoto allowed American and Japanese forces to share job knowledge and perspectives with their counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) --

U.S. Air Force Airmen worked with Japan Air Self-Defense Force, or Koku-Jieitai, airmen during the Bilateral Exchange Program at Yokota Air Base, Oct. 17-25.

Fifteen Koku-Jieitai Airmen visited Yokota AB to work with their U.S. Air Force counterparts, giving them a chance to learn, grow and strengthen relationships.

The Bilateral Exchange Program allows airmen to learn from one another, building better work practices and provides airmen an opportunity to share their culture.

“Through the BEP, I can learn the differences of operations between the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force,” said Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tech. Sgt. Yuji Watanabe, Iruma Weather Squadron weather observer. It helps me recognize a lot of pros and cons and gives me a good opportunity of bringing back what I’ve learned to my unit.”

Airmen from a variety of career fields participated in the program, including weather, airfield management, maintenance, security forces, supply and more.

Working together through a challenging language barrier helped the airmen strengthen partnerships.

“Every one of our counterparts were kind and encouraged and spoke positively to us,” Watanabe said. “You don’t have to worry about your English aptitude. You can enjoy every minute of the program by staying positive. We can definitely learn a lot from each other.”

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