By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)January 19, 2017
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group put their knees in the breeze with Soldiers from Japan Ground Self Defense Force's 1st Airborne Brigade (第1空挺) Jan. 8 at Camp Narashino near Chiba, Japan.
The allied Paratroopers made history, jumping together for the first time at the 50th annual JGSDF First Jump Ceremony, which celebrates the first training event of the new year for the Japanese Paratroopers -- also known as the Narashino Airborne Brigade (習志野空挺団).
Participation by U.S. Army Paratroopers in the First Jump Ceremony has been a long time coming. The catalyst for the bilateral jump was a visit to Japan's elite Paratoopers by senior leaders from 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division more than three years ago, said Maj. Donald Kim, Foreign Area Officer. A visit to the event in 2016 by U.S. Army Japan Commanding General. Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette set the wheels in motion and approval was granted.
"[U.S. Army-Pacific] has strong ties with the JGSDF through various means of bilateral exercises, exchanges and seminars," said Kim. "Continuous emphasis on ceremonial and anniversary events such as the First Jump Ceremony will inform the public and other nations that the alliance between US and Japan is enduring. Further, both forces will share a common understanding of each other's organizational differences and tactical activities to better prepare for any bilateral or multilateral collaboration in times of crisis," he said.
Like U.S. Army Paratroopers, Paratroopers from the 1st Airborne Brigade participate in various Airborne jumps using C-130 Hercules turboprop aircraft, CH-47 Chinook helicopters, UH-1 Hueys and other available fixed-wing aircraft. They also conduct Air Assaults to display ground combat capabilities. Japan Air Self Defense Force mainly provide fixed-wing aircraft for the ceremony, and the 1st Helicopter Brigade provides rotary wing aircraft.
"1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group is honored to represent the U.S. Army as the guest Paratroopers for the ceremony. As guests of the country of Japan, we are always striving to show our respect and commitment to the alliance," said Capt. Zach, whose last name is withheld for security purposes.
Zach said that conducting bilateral Airborne operations and by being good ambassadors to host-nation allies helps strengthen the relationship between the allied-Airborne units.
"The relationship between our units is a new one, however we always find common ground and special significance when working with Paratroopers from around the globe," said Zach. Continued operations and relations with the 1st Airborne Brigade and enhancing future training opportunities is always something we are happy to develop. Bottom line: it is important."