Texas Guardsmen build international relationship through training
January 23, 2013
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, the army branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, received members of the Texas Army National Guard's 606th Military Police Company for a week of specialized detainee training at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan. Operation Keen Sword, held November 6 through 14, featured the MPs working alongside their Japanese counterparts, with additional scenario support from the United States Marine Corps Law Enforcement Battalion.
"The specific mission for the 606th MP Company was setting up and running a DHA in support of Japan Joint Staff and the U.S. Marine Law Enforcement Battalion," said Sgt. 1st Class Howard Hewitt, acting first sergeant for the unit. "The Soldiers developed confidence in their skills and were able to showcase them not only to their Japanese counterparts, but to the other U.S. military branches."
The outfit's DHA, or detainee holding area, served as a mock prison to simulate short-term enemy prisoner of war scenarios and Geneva Convention protocols. Exercises included point of capture procedures, proper treatment of prisoners and Law of War operations.
"The Japanese received a live concept overview of DHA and EPW procedures/treatment," said Hewitt. "They were able to observe, question, and base scenarios on proper DHA/EPW operations while operating within Law of War/Geneva Conventions."
The Japan Self-Defense Forces participants included representatives from the Japanese Joint Staff, the Japan South Western Composite Air Division, the 441st MI Human Intelligence Team, Japan Eastern Army, and the Ground Staff Office.
"We trained 100 Japanese soldiers on restraining techniques," said unit commander, Capt. Arlene Boler. "The company also advised the Japanese leadership on detainee operations and other key protection standards."
Although this was the 13th year for Keen Sword, it was the first time for this Guard unit to travel overseas and participate, and the first time for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to engage standardized military police training.
"It was history-making," said Boler. "As the Japanese political advisor and military contingent relayed to us, this training event was a milestone in the Japanese military history. What the Japanese have learned from this collaboration will be indoctrinated into their regulations policies."
Cooperation was a key theme throughout the operation, with all units gaining valuable experience and perspectives working with such different organizations.
"Participation in Keen Sword gave insight to leaders on unit proficiency," said Boler. "The multi-cultural and bilateral collaborations are key take-aways."
"The company's good disciplined deployment and demonstration have helped us a lot to develop criterion in JSDF," said Lt. Col. Kenichi Ebina of the International Humanitarian Affairs Office. "It was the first time for JSDF officers and soldiers to see EPW treatment at DHA. We are all very happy to be given a good experience, to keep [the Geneva Convention] as a member of Japan."
With new relationships fostered and all mission objectives achieved, the 606th MP company returned home with a renewed confidence in their skills and their training.
"It was a complete success," said Hewitt. "The troops were able to assess their own capabilities in Detainee Operations. They were able to apply the skills they train on and see it all conceptualize."