KADENA AIR BASE—Japan Air Self-Defense Force service members, U.S. Marines and U.S airmen participated in a rare, integrated training exercise Feb. 5 at Kadena Air Base.
The training exercise focused on the employment of a simulated tactical air operations center and was designed to increase the proficiency of Marine tactical air defense controllers and their airmen and JASDF counterparts.
“The (aircrafts’ radar systems) only point in one direction, so we always want to have a ground station that has a 360-degree view and that can communicate to those (aircrafts’) fighters what they cannot see,” said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Louis D. Kim, an air defense control officer with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The mission of the TAOC is to provide airspace surveillance, air direction and control, coordination, information exchange, and weapons integration for the six functions of Marine aviation in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Force and joint-combined operations, according to Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-2, 22 and 25. The primary component that facilitates this capability for the TAOC is the AN/TPS-59(v) 3 Ballistic Missile Defense Radar. It provides early warning against air and missile threats.
“The simulated-training scenarios allow us to learn new things about our work,” said JASDF Maj. Hironao Okui, the officer-in-charge for the JASDF service members participating in the exercise. “It is good for us to train together because it gets us familiar with each other and will improve our (interoperability).”
The JASDF service members participating in the exercise operate out of the Southwestern Composite Air Division, headquartered in Naha.
Approximately 20 years ago, the services might not have worked so closely together, according to Okui. However, the current relationship suggests that interoperability between the services will likely increase and improve in the future.
“The capability sharing is how each service benefits most from training exercises like this one,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan D. Cox, the director of operations for the 623rd Air Control Flight, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing. “In a real-world scenario, we’re going to work together, so understanding what everyone brings to the table is important and it will make it easier for us to jump right into it.”
As the Marines, JASDF and the Air Force continue to work together to combine their capabilities, they hope to work in different areas like the Naha base to continue to enhance their relationship prior to working in potential crises in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The relationship we have with the Marines and JASDF is a big deal in this theater; it would be detrimental if we didn’t have it,” said Cox.