CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, JAPAN -- The partnership between the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and United States Marine Corps is strong and improving through bilateral exercises and ongoing integration efforts. Large scale examples of our alliance are easily notable, but the core of our relationship exits far beyond that.
U.S. Marine Col. Eric M. Mellinger, III Marine Expeditionary Force Chief of Staff, received a certificate of appreciation and a Defense Cooperation Medal from Col. Shusei Hotta, Deputy Chief of Policy and programs Division, on behalf of Gen. Kiyofumi Iwata, JGSDF Chief of Staff, June 13, 2016, at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.
This gesture expressed gratitude toward Mellinger for significantly contributing to increased training opportunities for the JGSDF by advancing co-use of Marine Corps training facilities on Okinawa. Furthermore, he led the expansion of III MEF efforts to participate in alliance/bilateral exercises and effectively balance relocation of training sites for United States Marines throughout Japan to promote trust between the people of Okinawa and U.S. Marines stationed on the prefecture.
The certificate reads, “This sent a clear message of mutual confidence and resolve between the United States and Japan. You made an immeasurable contribution toward the reinforcement of Japan’s national security environment as well as peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”
After receiving the award, Mellinger thanked Iwata by saying, “Most importantly this is one of the best tours I’ve served because of what III MEF and the JGSDF have accomplished and the path that we’ve been set upon…I leave very optimistic to what the future is going to hold.”