OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines with base operations welcomed Japan Air Self Defense Force Staff Sgt. Shinya Nishida to their unit through the professional military exchange program February 17-26 on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.
The professional military exchange program allows members of the JASDF, like Nishida, an opportunity to work with Marines, experience occupational procedures, culture and day-to-day life with the Corps.
Nishida worked as a basic flight planning dispatcher with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. He was responsible for processing flight plans, distributing reports for flights and relaying information to pilots.
“The (flight planning) tasks between JASDF and the Marine Corps are fundamentally different,” said Nishida. “In the JASDF, I keep track of incoming and outgoing aircraft and reformat flight plans from (MCAS) Futenma and Kadena (airbase) into Japanese (flight plans). With the Marine Corps, I enter flight plans, check flight conditions and have other responsibilities that are new to me.”
Nishida has been fully integrated into life in the Marine Corps, according to Staff Sgt. Jorge M. Guinta, flight planning chief and staff non-commissioned officer in charge of base operations, H&HS, MCAS Futenma. He experienced physical training with Marines, ate at the messhall, lived in a barracks room, participated in field day formation and learned the basic responsibilities of a flight plan dispatcher.
“Nishida received training the week prior (to his on-the-job experience) to learn and practice the responsibilities and procedures of the morning shift and night shift,” said Guinta, a Cranston, RI. native. “He adjusted to the new tasks very well, and retained the training he received to accurately complete his responsibilities.”
After Nishida’s exposure to the Marine Corps, the JASDF will return the favor by taking in a Marine in March to experience day-to-day routines of the JASDF.
“We’re one team, one fight and (the JASDF) are allies of ours,” said Guinta. “We’re on the same team together, so just working together to build cohesion and bonding with them strengthens both of our services as a whole.”
The professional military exchange program benefits JASDF and Marines by providing first-hand insight to the daily routines and responsibilities of each service, according to Nishida. The experience and knowledge gained through the program establishes better understanding and communication.
“Communication on profound levels is key to better our friendship,” said Nishida. “Hand gestures do not replace words and words do not guarantee communication between two nations. True communications are built upon assimilation to cultures and languages of the other. This exchange program provides that opportunity.”