CAMP CHITOSE, Japan, Dec. 3,-Approximately 120 New York Army National Guard Soldiers arrived here over the past four days for Yama Sakura 57, the bilateral command post training exercise with members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces.

The Soldiers will now establish the division headquarters command post and communications infrastructure to support the full spectrum battle simulation exercise next week. The troops acclimated quickly to Northern Japan\'s cold climate. With temperatures and a wind chill reaching down to the lower teens, most of the New York Army National Guard Soldiers left autumn at home much warmer than the environment on Hokkaido.

They will be conducting a jonit exercise with the Japanese Northern Army's 2nd Division.

Ten of the division's Soldiers already received a warm welcome as part of the cultural exchange program for Yama Sakura.

The New York Soldiers were received at the homes of Japanese army troops volunteering to open their homes, their families and their culture to the New York Army National Guardsmen. Yama Sakura 57 involves a military to military exchange to better prepare both forces for full spectrum conflict and train Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces for their homeland defense mission.

The command post exercise, scheduled for Dec. 8-13, involves a notional battle to defend Japanese sovereignty. It is one of the U.S. Army's largest such training events for high intensity, or full spectrum, conflict.

"About sixty percent of our effort here is just the military to military relationships and cultural exchange with our Japanese partners," Command Sgt. Major John Willsey said.

Willsey, from the 42d Special Troops Battalion, supervises the Soldier care and life support issues for the deployed troops. "The other forty percent of our effort is the exercise itself," Willsey noted. "Training with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces is an exchange of techniques and lessons learned that make both our forces better at what we do."

This is the second time this year that New York Army National Guard Soldiers have trained in Japan with the Japan Ground Self Defense Defense Force. In October 200 Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard, most from the famed "Fighting 69th" the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, took part in Operation Orient Shield. The Soldiers trained with Japanese infantrymen at Camp Imazu, Japan.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16