Runway repair exercise builds bilateral relations

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Japan Air Self-Defense Force and U.S. Air Force civil engineer Airmen worked together during a bilateral contingency training day held on Kadena Air Base Oct. 22, 2015, to strengthen relations and integrate combined runway repair capabilities.

The 18th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen gave JASDF members from the Southwestern Composite Air Division a hands-on demonstration on how they repair a damaged runway in response to a real-world attack.

"We as engineers go out and repair the runway and reestablish it so that we can receive and launch aircraft and get back to completing our mission," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. David Brown-Dawson, 18th CES Airfield Damage and Repair officer in charge. "This is the first time we've done this bilateral training with JASDF."

During the training scenario, the engineers had to practice all the steps required to rapidly repair a damaged runway to ensure aircraft can continue to takeoff. To do that, the JASDF and USAF engineers took to the controls of heavy machinery in order to fill a previously dug 50-foot crater with surrounding debris.

Dump trucks provided the workers with gravel and sand, where the machinery was used to shape and level the hole to specific measurements before being pressed into place by a roller and covered with a fiberglass sheet.

Re-establishing a safe and operational runway is vital in order to maintain offensive and defensive capabilities. Engineers laid down runway lights across the mock airfield, marking the boundaries of the operating strip guiding aircraft to take off and land in a safe to use section of an otherwise damaged runway.

"Training was great," said JASDF Tech. Sgt. Shinya Kaneshuro, Naha Air Base South Western Air Civil Engineering Group engineer. "I learned about the technology and capabilities of the U.S.'s Air Field Damage Repair. I am looking forward to participating in another training session."

Many of the procedures were similar for both nations and the training day allowed both militaries to showcase their rapid runway repair skills and foster confidence in each other's capabilities.

"We've worked with the Navy and we've worked with the Marines to foster our joint relationships, this was an effort to foster those bilateral relationships." Brown-Dawson said. "This was, hopefully, the first step of many to work with JASDF and enhance our capabilities and our partnership."

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