MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, and Marine Aircraft Group 12 from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, traveled to Komatsu Air Base, Japan to participate in the Komatsu Aviation Training Relocation exercise March 7-18, 2016.
VMFA-314, also known as the “Black Knights,” took the lead in conducting dissimilar air combat training and bilateral tactical mission training with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Not only does this training mission increase the squadron’s readiness in air-to-air mission sets and executes flight leadership qualification upgrades, it supports theater security cooperation and combined interoperability with the JASDF.
“We are very excited to be at JASDF Komatsu Air Base to participate in aviation training with our Japanese counterparts,” said Lt. Col. Gregory A. McGuire, commanding officer of VMFA-314. “This program allows us to maintain operational readiness, while at the same time allowing us to take our aircraft to different designated locations to train.”
The ATR program, established in 2007, is in place as a result of the Defense Policy Review Initiative to increase the operational readiness of U.S. and Japanese forces, enhance bilateral interoperability and reduce local noise pollution.
To achieve these goals, unilateral jet-fighter training of U.S. forces in Misawa Air Base, MCAS Iwakuni and Kadena Air Base is dispersed to six JASDF bases on mainland Japan. By rotating training locations through Tsuiki Air Base, Nyutabaru Air Base, Hyakuri Air Base, Chitose Air Base, Misawa Air Base and Komatsu Air Base, U.S. forces continue to meet required training objectives while upholding alliances with the host nation.
“As U.S. pilots, we have a lot of common threads with the Japanese pilots that instantly create a bond between us,” said Maj. James R. Berard, operations officer with VMFA-314. “This bond greatly diminishes the language barriers allowing the relationship with our Japanese counterparts to strengthen and grow. Our main challenge will be operating out of an unfamiliar airfield, but I am excited to teach the JASDF new tactics and learn some as well.”
Every ATR contributes to U.S. - Japan forces’ understanding of each other’s capabilities and methods by fostering peace and stability through increased interoperability. Training together better prepares the U.S. and Japan to work together in the future because they have practiced procedures and built relationships to facilitate vital coordination.
“While our primary focus in Komatsu is conducting safe and productive bilateral training with the JASDF,” said McGuire. “This training provides a very unique opportunity for our services to train together, learn from each other and grow better as a team.”