CAMP NAHA, Japan - The 15th Brigade, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force invited seven officers from the 10th Regional Support Group to Camp Naha in late April to learn what life is like for a JGSDF officer.

This exchange is part of an annual program designed for officers from the U.S. and Japan to learn about each other's jobs by shadowing their counterparts for three consecutive days.

Second Lt. Amanda Arthur, the assistant officer in charge for the 2013 bilateral exchange for the 10th RSG, stated that this program is relatively new. For the past few years a group of officers would learn from their counterparts jobs by immersing themselves into the other officer's life for a few days. Last year the event was hosted by the 10th RSG at Torii Station and this year the JGSDF hosted the event at Camp Naha.

This year's events included a JGSDF physical fitness test, self defense training activities, briefings, leader professional development, observing a tsunami response drill, tours and a social.

Matthew Kotowski, a training officer for the 10th RSG and first time attendee at a bilateral exchange, was impressed by how similar the U.S. and Japan forces train.

"Their structure is very similar to ours, as far as the roles and responsibilities of the noncommissioned officers and officers and how similar they ran things when it came to training."

Kotowski went on to explain, "They definitely made us feel welcome, and if given the opportunity again I would jump on it and I encourage any officer to attend an event like this."

Arthur summed up the success of the bilateral exchange when she stated, "I think one of the greatest experiences you can have being stationed overseas is getting to know someone from the country you are living in."

Since the exchange, a number of the officers who participated in the event have gathered together to practice their foreign language skills and building long term, lasting friendships.

"It was a great cultural experience, how we were able to really connect and to make bonds with these officers," said Arthur. "We were able to grow our relationships with the Japanese forces and it was a great learning experience."

Page last updated Mon May 20th, 2013 at 00:00