NCO Bilateral Exchange: Growth through connection

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell

NCO Bilateral Exchange: Growth through connection

by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- This holiday season Team Kadena hosted the 2019 NCO Bilateral Exchange program Nov. 15 – 22, 2019, on Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The NCO Bilateral Exchange program consists of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and Japanese Self-Defense Force members coming together to learn and grow. The program paired members from similar career fields, so they could learn how their counterparts operate to accomplish the missions of peaceful development, contingency response and aggression deterrence.

“The purpose of the NCO Bilateral Exchange is to gain insight on how our partners perform their mission and how we perform ours,” said USAF Tech. Sgt. Adrian Lemard, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “For instance, they organize their crew chiefs in a different way compared to us. They’re a lot more specialized in their career fields.”

The program included a historical brief, base tour, mission briefs, physical training, professional enhancement seminars, and worksite visits.

“It was a great time to improve the relations between the Japanese and Americans,” said JASDF Staff Sgt. Shuichiro Masunaga, 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron aircraft general technician. “It’s awesome to see the bond between us. I was able to improve my English and I liked how hands-on the maintenance is here.”

Masunaga performed maintenance with Lemard, he normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to take part in such as: tire changes, launch procedures on F-15s and F-15 refueling procedures. The opportunity to work closely with his USAF partner left both, Masunaga and Lemard hoping for more bilateral exchange events in the future.

“It’s good to see another side of the mission,” Lemard said. “You can get locked into a narrow viewpoint of how your mission and craft operates, so it’s always fun to be able to see another angle or learn new tricks of the trade that can make us better at what we do. I would love to do this again.”

Photo Caption:
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Calvin Ussery, 18th Force Support Squadron ceremonial guardsman, center, points out the differences in a ceremonial guardsman’s service dress and a regular Airman’s for U.S. Air Force,U.S. Army, and Japanese Self-Defense Force members participating in an NCO Bilateral Exchange program Nov. 15, 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Bilateral exchanges allow for a better understanding of the capabilities held by each countries Armed Forces, as well as the opportunity to improve relations between the United States and Japan.

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