CAMP NAHA, Japan - Fifteen American and Japanese soldiers were on hand to participate in a noncommissioned officer bilateral exchange program from Aug. 5-9 at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's 15th Brigade headquarters in Naha, Japan.

During the opening ceremony Sgt. Maj. Richard Caballero, the operations sergeant major for the 10th Regional Support Group, thanked the 15th Brigade's leadership for hosting soldiers from various units on Okinawa.

"The exchange program is important because it enhances our working relationships, as well as our personal relationships, with our Japanese counterparts," said Caballero.

The week long exchange program allows American Soldiers to get firsthand experience of life as a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. In addition to observing a Japan unit's training U.S. soldiers also get an opportunity to participate in Japanese military combatives, physical fitness test and learn some history about the Battle of Okinawa.

Sgt. Jarvis Shedrick, a unit supply noncommissioned officer for Headquarter and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, explained he was excited to have an opportunity to come and not only learn but to meet soldiers from the JGSDF.

"This is a great opportunity to connect with our host nation country. Without bilateral exchange programs it's difficult to know and understand each other," said Shedrick.

As the Department of Defense continues to focus on increasing opportunities throughout the pacific command bilateral events are vital to establishing relationships with host nation countries.

The 10th RSG supports various bilateral events, for both commissioned officers and noncommissioned officers, to help bridge the gap and understand how each military operates while building relationships.

Command Sgt. Maj. Akira Inoue, command sergeant major for the JGSDF's 15th Brigade, explained the importance of bilateral events for the JGSDF after a group photo at the 15th Brigade's headquarters.

"We really love our partnership with United States Army Japan and we look to expand this program to better our relationship with USARJ," said Inoue.

Page last updated Wed August 7th, 2013 at 00:00