Story by Cpl Janessa Pon on 01/19/2016SHIZUOKA, Japan - Marines toured Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Anti-Aircraft Battalion facilities Jan. 13 on Camp Komakado, Shizuoka, Japan.
The visit strengthened the relationship between Marines and members of the JGSDF by allowing the service members to explore static displays of anti-aircraft defense equipment and vehicles, discuss training and tactical procedures, and eat meals together.
"Today was a very big step for our Marines," said 1st Lt. Yosef E. Adiputra, the officer in charge of 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Aircraft Control Group 28, currently assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. "Given the American presence in the Asia-Pacific region, it is crucial for us to build that cohesion with our counterparts here in Japan so we can build relationships and partnerships and learn from each other."
The Marines rode onto Camp Komakado on a JGSDF truck and filed into a conference room in the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battalion building, where they received a brief on the equipment and operational capabilities of the unit. The Marines then toured the building and viewed static displays of tactical vehicles and weapon systems at the JGSDF motor pool.
"We are very pleased to be able to present our facilities to Marines," said JGSDF 1st Lt. Takahashi, with the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battalion. "We want them to see how we train and discuss our tactics so we can learn from each other and develop a strong relationship."
The Marines' also tour included a visit to the Improved Moving Target Simulator, during which Marines tried their hand at operating a simulated Personal Surface to Air Missile and firing at animated targets.
According to Adiputra, a Queens, New York, native, the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battalion is structured much like a Marine Battalion.
"The way their unit functions is very efficient and very impressive," said Adiputra. "They are very capable and the similarities help us relate better, while the differences allow us to learn from each other."
The facilities tour ended with the martial arts training facility, where members of the JGSDF demonstrated various facets of the program; such as hand-to-hand, rifle-bearing and Kendo-based combat techniques.
After the demonstrations, the Marines and JGSDF members gathered on the rooftop of the battalion building and posed for photos before enjoying lunch together.
"Japan and the United States are critical allies with an important relationship," said Takahashi. "When I visited Okinawa last year, I was treated very well by the Marines, so I wanted the Marines to have same experience here. That's why we invited Marines. Our friendship is very important and this was a great opportunity to build on it."