Multinational training improves defenses Published Dec. 11, 2013 By Senior Airman Michael Washburn 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- (Editor’s note: The following scenario is from a multinational training and does not depict a real world event.) On the northern tip of Japan, foreign ground forces are slowly pushing south. The Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, are trying their best to hold the foreign forces off. All the while, the Air Force monitors the airspace and the Navy tries to lockdown the sea. Japan is under full-scale attack -- virtually. Preventing and defending against this simulated attack was the main mission of Yama Sakura 65. "Yama Sakura is a U.S. Army-centric exercise where they (Army, Air Force, Japan Air and Ground Self-Defense Force) defend Japan against a simulated invading force," said Maj. Richard Ramsey, a 5th Air Force exercise planner. "We are utilizing the JASDF's (Joint Air Self-Defense Force) Air Defense Command's Bilateral Air Operations Coordination Center (BAOCC) at Yokota Air Base to provide a venue for both the Japanese and U.S. Army to do coordination and training." The BAOCC allows for Soldiers, Airmen, JASDF and JGSDF to work side-by-side. "The area is a working air operation center," said Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Russell, a 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment air traffic and airspace technician. "All the information is directed there for mission coordination and control between U.S. forces and Japanese forces." The five-day long exercise, which concluded Dec. 10, saw simulated aircraft, ground units, submarines and ships engage with virtual enemies. While the difficulty of winning a war raged on, the exercise participants faced other challenges. "We (Japan Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces) have separate challenges, such as language barriers, acronyms and the way we fight," said Army Col. Jon Howerton, the 5th BCD commander. "We're able to break down those challenges by doing more and more of these exercises. The more side-by-side training we do will bring us closer together and make us both a better fighting force." That sentiment is shared with our Japanese counterparts as well. "Through this exercise, we not only gain better military relationships, but also personal relationships," said Maj. Naoya Kaneko, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Defense Command joint interface control officer. "That would be a great benefit to us because we need to work together if a real-world situation arises."