FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii Aca,!" Although they originate from vastly different cultures, Soldiers from the U.S. Army, Pacific, Contingency Command Post, and the Japanese Northern Army Ground Self Defense Force became Aca,!A"One TeamAca,!A? or Aca,!A"Ichi Ban,Aca,!A? by pursuing a common goal - the Yama Sakura 56 Staff Exercise.

During the STAFFEX July 13 Aca,!" 17, participants from both Armies coordinated and planned for the upcoming annual Yama Sakura exercise, in Japan in December.

Aca,!A"A staff exercise is a vital step in the process to get to a successful exercise,Aca,!A? said Col. Sean Callahan, operations officer for the CCP. Aca,!A"The relationships that we build are largely formed during these planning conferences and staff exercises. So not only do we get the professional development and interaction, we also build the personal relationships that are so vital to building capacity and establishing and maintaining strength.Aca,!A?

The CCP, a new entity to the structure of USARPAC, conducted its first major collective training during the exercise.

"This is the first event that now the full staff of the CCP are able to work together and understand how we do business at the operational level as a Contingency Command Post," Callahan said.

Japanese counterparts expressed similar sentiments towards the importance of the exercise. "This exercise is an excellent opportunity for our nations to improve C4 - command, control, communication and computers,Aca,!A? said Col. Kenzo Tokuda, Northern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

TokudaAca,!a,,cs counterpart for the exercise is Col. Raymond Lamb, USARPAC deputy chief of staff, CCP.

"Building bilateral relationships in the Pacific is really important," Lamb said. "Part of our USARPAC mission statement states that we become technologically advanced and culturally astute, and both of those objectives are reinforced in this exercise.Aca,!A?

Callahan spoke highly of the relationship-building and accomplishments established during the exercise. "The relationships we have with the Japanese Northern Army are as good as I've seen it and the amount of products and coordination have really been unprecedented for the level of synchronization of governorship that we've displayed here,Aca,!A? Callahan said.

Each year, a different part of the Japanese Army participates in the exercise.

Aca,!A"Every Yama Sakura we have new units on the task organization, and these planning conferences allow us to meet for the first time and pass the lessons learned from previous Yama Sakura exercises,Aca,!A? said Lt. Col. Bruce Mumford, CCP Communications Chief.

Mumford spoke highly of his Japanese counterpart. Aca,!A"I found that I learned far more from my northern Army counterpart than I taught him,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"He was in the eastern Army during YS 55, he was the battalion commander, so he brought a lot of lessons learned.Aca,!A?

Maj. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commanding general, U.S. Army, Japan, and counterpart Maj. Gen. Kiromichi Kawamata, deputy chief of staff, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, Northern Army, spoke at the closing social event for the exercise.

Aca,!A"We have two objectives in this exercise, first to make an efficient and effective plan between our two forces, and secondly, we need to increase our friendships,Aca,!A? said Kawamata. Aca,!A"So far in the five days of this exercise, those two objectives have been accomplished, so our exercise has been successful and significant.Aca,!A?

Wiercinski thanked everyone for a superb bilateral training event.

Aca,!A"Equally as important as this bilateral staff-planning exercise is, it's also very important that we continue to grow our bonds of friendship with our two nations coming together as allies, and this is one of those occasions that we are able to that,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"When we get to Japan in December, we will give the same excellent effort and we will make sure that the Northern Army and U.S. Army, Pacific, are truly One Team.Aca,!A?