Building strategic partnerships

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Ground Self-Defense Force toured the 353rd Special Operations Group here June 21, in order to create partnerships between military members from both nations.

The JASDF and JGSDF officers started their day with a briefing on the mission and capabilities of the 353rd SOG and their aircraft.

“I had the pleasure of talking with them about the MC-130H Combat Talon II and the MC-130J Commando II aircraft, the differences between the two platforms, and the unique capabilities of each,” said Capt. Joshua Radford, 17th Special Operations Squadron pilot.

Most of the JASDF members on the tour are training to become pilots, so they were able to gain detailed insights into the 353rd SOG, the various aircraft and the pilots who make the missions happen.

They were then shuttled to the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, where many rifles, dirt bikes and other special tactics equipment were on display.

After receiving a brief explanation on the capabilities of the rifles, radios and other equipment, the JASDF and JGSDF members enthusiastically handled some of the equipment. Members of the 320th STS showed them how to properly handle the weapons and equipment and gave examples of when and where they would use them.

The group was then showed the Human Performance Center, the personal training center for the 320th STS.

The Human Performance Center has weight and cardio training machines, rehabilitation machines such as a massager and a hot tub as well as a full staff of personal trainers and doctors.

Capt. John Rulien, 320th STS special tactics officer, explained that the members of the STS are their assets. Many squadrons spend money to keep aircraft in the air, while the 320th STS spends money ensuring their people are always able to perform the mission, whether it’s athletically or mentally.

“The greatest asset in our force is the people,” said Rulien. “Resourcing the requisite material and support in order to keep our greatest asset operating against our nations' foes is what we take very seriously in U.S. Special Operations Command.”

The JASDF and JGSDF members then toured a static display of an MC-130J Commando II. Radford took them around, explaining various parts of the aircraft and what they do, answering any questions the Japanese military members had.

It was very beneficial for both nation’s military services and furthered relationships between the U.S. Air Force and our host nation counterparts, explained Rulien.

“The tour went exceptionally well and I certainly believe this kind of interaction and partnership is a step in a positive direction,” said Radford. “Everyone in the group seemed to really enjoy learning about our mission and what we bring to the fight. We have such incredible opportunities here with our Japan Self Defense Force partners, and I certainly look forward to working with them in the future.”