NCO Bilateral Exchange: Growth through connection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rhett Isbell
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

Kadena Air Base hosted visitors from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force during the 2019 NCO Bilateral Exchange program Nov. 15–22.

The NCO Bilateral Exchange program consists of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and Japan Self-Defense Force members coming together to learn and grow. The program pairs members from similar career fields, so they can learn how their counterparts operate to accomplish the missions of peaceful development, contingency response and aggression deterrence.

“The purpose of the NCO Bilateral Exchange is to gain insight on how our partners perform their mission and how we perform ours,” said Tech. Sgt. Adrian Lemard, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “For instance, they organize their crew chiefs in a different way compared to us. They’re a lot more specialized in their career fields.”

The program included historical and mission briefs, base tour, physical training, professional enhancement seminars and worksite visits.

“It was a great time to improve the relations between the Japanese and Americans,” said Japan Air Self-Defense Force Staff Sgt. Shuichiro Masunaga, 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron aircraft general technician, who was paired with Lemard during the exchange. “It’s awesome to see the bond between us. I was able to improve my English and I liked how hands-on the maintenance is here.”

Masunaga he normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to take part in such as: tire changes, launch procedures on the F-15 (Eagle) and F-15 refueling procedures. The opportunity to work closely together left both Masunaga and Lemard hoping for more bilateral exchange events in the future.

“It’s good to see another side of the mission,” Lemard said. “You can get locked into a narrow viewpoint of how your mission and craft operates, so it’s always fun to be able to see another angle or learn new tricks of the trade that can make us better at what we do. I would love to do this again.”