By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Shepherd, United States Army, Pacific Public AffairsDecember 14, 2009
CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan- More than 1,500 U.S. troops descended on northern Japan Dec. 7-13 to participate in Yama Sakura 57, a bilateral, computer-based exercise designed to strengthen military operations and ties between the U.S. and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Most of these troops are working with their Japanese counterparts by manning computers, attending battle update briefs and coordinating air support.
But some troops are working hard behind the scenes, collecting laundry, running transportation and distributing mail; all with the mission of providing logistical support to keep the exercise running smoothly. These troops belong to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, based in Sagami General Depot, Japan.
"We provide life support to all exercise participants, "said Capt. David Williams, plans officer with the 35th. "From the moment the Soldier hits the ground, to the moment he or she gets on the plane to go home, we are providing life support to ensure the Soldier has what he or she needs to accomplish the mission."
The 35th CSSB has been charged to establish logistics support to facilitate the USARPAC Command Post exercise Yama Sakura 57 and provide logistics support for all U.S. participants.
The support starts with the Movement Control Team who picks up U.S. troops at the airport and transports them back to Camp Chitose. It continues during room assignments, in processing, and overall life support.
"Laundry service, postal service, finance service, medical aid, chaplain service, you name it, we provide it," Williams said. "Keeping track of all the moving pieces is the most difficult part of the mission, but the Soldiers are doing a phenomenal job."
The support continues when a Soldier has a little time off, and wants to go to the morale, welfare and recreation facility to watch television, read a book, call home or play ping-pong.
"I really have fun in the MWF facility, said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Whitehead, United States Army, Pacific Special Troops Battalion. "It's a great place to mingle with Soldiers from the National Guard and meet new people."
Though the overall mission belongs to the CSSB, several National Guard units are chipping in to accomplish the mission. This includes transportation Soldiers from the California National Guard, chaplains from the Utah National Guard and medics from the Nevada National Guard.
"The guard has played an important role (in the exercise) and has been a major impact in the success of YS 57," said Sgt. 1st Class Kerry Peay, 35th CSSB.
Yama Sakura, meaning mountain cherry blossom, is an annual, bilateral command post exercise with Japanese and U.S. military forces working together to defend Japan.
Although the exercise is only seven days long, most Soldiers in the CSSB will be in northern Japan for 33 days.
After more than 30,000 meals, 10,000 pieces of laundry and 10,000 MWR visits, the CSSB will turn over the room keys to the Northern Army, closing the door on a successful exercise.