8th TSC troops participate in Yama Sakura 57, experience local culture
From left, 1st Lt. Jessica Dunn, and Staff Sgt. Nelida Wakefield, Support Operations Human Resources, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, participated in the Japanese home visit as part of Yama Sakura 57 with the Kubata family of Chitose. The Soldiers enjoyed sushi and a specialty their hosts described as "Japanese pancakes"- finely chopped fresh vegetables and pieces of pork in an egg batter that the family cooked on a tabletop grill.

CAMPAca,!E+HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan - More than 50 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) Soldiers worked hand-in-hand with their Japanese counterparts during Exercise Yama Sakura 57, here. The Soldiers departed the warm, tropical climate of Hawaii for the cold, snowy northern island of Hokkaido in early December for exercise training and cultural experiences.

Yama Sakura is the 28th iteration of the Japan-based exercise series. Yama Sakura is an exercise designed to enhance US and Japanese combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening the relationship between the two nations. The focus of the exercise is tactical combat and battle staff training, giving Soldiers more experience in full-spectrum operations.

The Soldiers of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), based out of Tokyo and part of the 8th TSC, supported exercise participants by making sure there were enough latrines available, enough food to sustain the exercise and enough room in billeting to accommodate the Soldiers comfortably.

This was no easy task, but for the Capt. David Williams, support operations plans officer, coordinating with his Japanese counterparts is an opportunity to learn firsthand how the Japanese soldiers do business.

"Every day I attend a bilateral meeting where we sit down, and go over issues that pertain to our side and issues on their side and we always come to a mutual understanding on how we are going to resolve this issues," Williams said. "We also go to the social events so there\'s a chance for us to bond, not just on the work level, but on the friendship level as well. So we can also establish personal relationships."

For Yama Sakura 57, National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers worked alongside the active duty Soldiers of the 35th CSSB. Lt. Col. Stacy Townsend, commander, 35th CSSB, says this exercise is the first time many of the National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers have deployed outside the United States, and it's an opportunity that is unforgettable.

"For some of the Soldiers, working with the Japanese in an exercise may be the first time they've worked with a Soldier from another country," he said. "So you can always learn something from each other and take that back with you. For us in the 35th CSSB, it's continuing our partnership with the Japanese. We are just the logistics arm of it, but we are proud to support everybody."

Many Soldiers had the chance to experience a home visit with a Japanese family, and took part in cultural events during the exercise. One Soldier said working and socializing with the Japanese while on exercise Yama Sakura has been an interesting but memorable experience.

"When I've got some time, after working, I like to go to Friendship Hall and socialize with the Japanese army and my counterparts," said Sgt. Christopher Forecki, 8th TSC. "It's interesting because they don't speak perfect English and my Japanese is not so good either, so we tend to have a couple laughs and a good time. But just experiencing Japanese culture and the home visit is something I'll remember for a long time."

The exercise wrapped up with a closing ceremony Sunday.

Page last updated Fri December 18th, 2009 at 20:42