CAMP ZAMA, Japan – About 60 personnel from U.S. Army Garrison Japan participated in an off-site exercise here this week to develop a five-year strategic plan and strengthen collaboration across directorates.
The USAG Japan Installation Support Plan aims to better align garrison operations and services in support of U.S. Army Japan and other higher commands. The plan, which is slated to be completed by the end of the year, will be about 15 pages and provide a detailed outline on the way forward.
The four-day exercise included team-building activities and sessions to discuss ways to tackle objectives within the plan that are related to people, operations and infrastructure.
“It allows us to step away from the normal things that we do, because we all have a day job, and to leverage the power of the organization to come and solve some really hard problems,” said Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, commander of USAG Japan.
Tomlinson said another goal of the exercise was to revalidate the garrison’s current mission, vision and strategies, which were developed last year.
He also hoped participants expanded their knowledge on the strategic outlook of the garrison.
“They can go back to their individual directorates with a broader picture for their workforce and say, ‘There is a method to the madness here,’” Tomlinson said.
Joseph “Coco” Espiritu, who helped organize the exercise with Karen Abruscato, said the collaboration that went into it was a rewarding experience for him.
“One of things that I’ve really enjoyed in both my military and civilian careers was being a small part of a big team,” he said. “This is probably one of the clearest examples of that.”
Espiritu, a plans and operations specialist with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said the exercise had garrison staff from Okinawa, Kure and Camp Zama, as well as some members from USARJ.
By cooperating together on complex issues and in fun, interactive activities, the participants may gain insight on how to work more closely with each other down the road, Espiritu said.
“If you know a person, and you know them as a human, then it’s easier to work together on a project,” he said.
He added that it was also valuable to conduct the exercise in person at the Camp Zama Community Club following years of virtual meetings and communication due to the pandemic.
“It would have been a shame to waste the opportunity to actually see someone face-to-face and interact with them, because we have not had the chance to do that a lot,” he said.
Adam Negri, a sub-facilities engineer with the Directorate of Public Works, traveled up from Kure to attend the exercise.
While he enjoyed the camaraderie and even led one of the team-building events, Negri said he also appreciated the in-depth planning that was involved in crafting the plan.
“It’s very important because when you have a roadmap, it allows you to focus your efforts,” he said. “We all rotate out, so if you have that roadmap that captures the process and the way you want to go, it gives you that continuity.”