Annual full-scale exercise provides USAG Japan with opportunities to use skills

Annual full-scale exercise provides USAG Japan with opportunities to use skills

by Noriko Kudo
U.S. Army Garrison Japan

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Aug. 29, 2017) -- U.S. Army Garrison Japan conducted its annual full-scale exercise Aug. 21-24 on Camp Zama and other installations, including Sagami General Depot, Sagamihara Family Housing Area and Yokohama North Dock.

USAG Japan Garrison Commander Col. Phillip K. Gage said the full-scale exercise gives the installation an opportunity to practice responding in the event of a natural disaster or security problem and see how the community is going to operate and work together.

"This is a community exercise so it touches everyone," said Gage.

Various units, including first responders and medical teams, participated in the four-day exercise and were evaluated during several crisis scenarios, such natural disasters and hazardous incidents.

Akira Nakajima, assistant fire chief at Sagami General Depot, participated as an operation section chief during day one's activity, which included an 8.0 earthquake that caused a hazardous material explosion at SGD.

Nakajima said he and his team were able to use the skills they have been trained on regularly.

"If we don't use our skills during the exercises, we won't use them in real-life emergencies" said Nakajima.

Nakajima said his team trains with the neighboring cities' first responders throughout the year and it is critical to continue collaborating closely with them.

Spc. Kuzari Hill, a health screener assigned to U.S. Army Medical Department Activities-Japan, treated casualties during the day-two event; 6.0 aftershock, which caused two housing collapse on SFHA.

"It's good to actually use skills every now and then," said Hill.

Hill said it is a great opportunity to show the community what MEDDAC-J does.

Several community members also participated as volunteer casualties during the full-scale exercise, said William Luna, emergency manager for USAG Japan.

"Having our volunteers participate gives our first responders a much better training opportunity to where they can really go through motions," said Luna.

Luna said it also gives the community members a sense of safety by interacting with the first responders and acknowledging that they are working for the community members.

"I recommend that every single community member tries to be involved whenever they can with these type of exercises," said Luna.

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