Air defense Soldiers partner with Japanese for Yama Sakura

Written by  //  December 21, 2012  //  Feature Stories, News

By Maj. Tina Madovoy, 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

CAMP SENDAI, Japan (December 21, 2012) — Soldiers from the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade recently conducted a bilateral annual training exercise during the first two weeks of December at Camp Sendai, Japan. The exercise, named Yama Sakura 63, is a yearly joint and bilateral training exercise with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) with supporting U.S. forces at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) to further enhance the U.S. relationship with the JGSDF. In this exercise, Soldiers served as ambassadors from the United States while conducting a unique training opportunity to exercise the unit’s Army Battle Command System (ABCS) while interacting with their Japanese counterparts.

Multinational service members stand on a podium for the opening ceremony of exercise Yama Sakura (YS) 63 in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on Dec. 6, 2012. YS is an annual, bilateral exercise between the U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force. YS is the largest command post exercise that focuses predominately on the bilateral and joint planning, coordination and interoperability of ground based elements of the U.S./Japan security alliance. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jess Williams/Released)

The ABCS is a collective system of systems that includes the Air Missile Defense Warning System (AMDWS), the Air Defense System Integrator (ADSI), the Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3) and the Command Post of the Future (CPOF). Soldiers had the opportunity to learn, hone and refine their skills in simulated tactical ballistic missile launches that were part of larger simulated bilateral operations with the United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) and the Japanese North Eastern Army. The ABCS provides the commander real-time situational awareness of the battlefield, location of friendly and enemy units as well as a bilateral air defense common operating picture with the Japanese air defense systems. Yama Sakura allows the staff to collaborate, produce products and briefings while collecting interfacing with each operating system.

There were many opportunities for Soldiers to experience and learn about the local Japanese culture. A select number of Soldiers were able to participate in cultural tours and in the Host Nation home visit program. The home visit program allowed Soldiers to visit with a local family and have the chance to experience firsthand a Japanese household. As Soldiers returned from these visits, they elaborated on the different experiences they had at the respective households they visited. During these visits, Soldiers had the opportunity to eat traditional Japanese meals, take part in everyday activities and build lasting bonds with their Japanese family. These visits are essential for building and keeping a good rapport with the Japanese. The Japanese are especially grateful of U.S. forces, most especially for their contributions and support during Operation Tomadachi in early 2011, which resulted from the Great East Japan Earthquake which affected millions of Japanese in the surrounding areas.