By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsNovember 23, 2016
SHARIKI, Japan -- In the land of the rising sun, American Soldiers and civilians embrace their neighbors and strive to improve community relations while stationed half a world away from the United States.
Members of the 10th Missile Defense Battery, located on the northern edge of the Japanese island of Honshu, operate the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control Model 2, or AN/TPY-2, forward-based mode, or FBM, radar based at the Shariki Communications Site.
The 10th Missile Defense Battery Soldiers in Shariki fall under the command and control of Brig. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, commanding general, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, or AAMDC, located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The battery is nicknamed the "Samurai Battery" and provides long-range detection, classification and tracking of ballistic missile threats in support of homeland defense as well as the Pacific theater of operations.
"No one could do this alone, and host nation support is vital," Gainey said. "None of this would be possible without the incredible support we've received from the government of Japan and the surrounding community. The Samurai Battery maintains a strong relationship with local leadership to include the mayor, city council members, law enforcement and Japanese military building the foundation of what has been, and will continue to be a long lasting partnership."
He said the battery Soldiers demonstrate their commitment to local citizens by participating in regular exercises with the Tsugaru City police and fire departments, as well as the annual Guard and Protect exercise, which also includes the 10th Missile Defense Battery, Shariki Japan Air Self-Defense Force, or JASDF, and 21st Infantry Regiment.
Gainey said the Soldiers and civilians are also invited to local events, conduct ongoing English classes for local children, and have an agreement with the local high school that annually sends its first year students to the communications site and the JASDF Patriot site as part of their Social Studies class.
"The Samurai Soldiers are viewed as valuable members in the community," Gainey said. "These relationships are vital to the success of our mission and send a strong message to our adversaries in the region that we'll stand together both in peacetime and during any crisis."
Soldiers talked about how the surrounding communities have taken them in while they are so far from home.
"The Japanese community has welcomed us with open arms. Performing community service gives us an opportunity to give back to those who have made us feel like family," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Gay, 10th Missile Defense Battery platoon sergeant. "We have an English-speaking class every Thursday with the local community children. We do a lot with the local orphanages, and organize Christmas parties, and ensure there is a gift for each child so no one is left out.
"We also do a lot with the local retirement homes," he added. "We will go out and visit the elderly people and do things to let them know they are remembered. One lady was 104 years old and thanked us for being here to help defend their nation. Everyone is so friendly and it is an honor to represent the U.S."
While at the Shariki Communications Site, Soldiers and civilians partake in numerous community relation team building events such as hiking, safety walks, picking up trash on the beach near the Shariki fishing port, participating in the Goshogawara Tachi-Neputa Festival, joining in the local Cheseborough Cup swim relay, serving hamburgers and hot dogs at the Tomiyachi Children's Summer Festival and numerous other events.
"We have a great relationship with our Japanese community," said 1st Lt. Ronald Scott, 10th MDB force protection officer-in-charge. "When we walk around everyone welcomes us and makes us feel at home. One of the lucky things we get to do is to get invited to local events and learn more about their colorful culture and also share our American values as well.
"This is my first duty station, and I have been fortunate enough to be in such a beautiful location," he added. "It is daunting, but it is a broadening assignment. The community is welcoming, and I am privileged to be here."