U.S., Japan explosive ordnance disposal ignites bilateral training
Misawa Air Base | .
published: March 18, 2017
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 35th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team collaborated with Japan Air Self-Defense Force Tohoku EOD school instructors to conduct integrated training at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 2 and 3.
Headquarters Air Force, Office of the Director of Civil Engineers, Pacific Command and 5th Air Force recently directed USAF CES forces to devise training curriculums to align with JASDF EOD. Around the same time, the JASDF supreme commander of EOD mandated the expansion of Japan's capabilities to align with the USAF EOD's mission set.
"Since December, we've been working to develop a long-term bilateral training plan," said Capt. Robert Pukay-Martin, 35th CES EOD flight commander. “It took great effort from our shop, as well as key leaders from Misawa’s JASDF EOD and the Tohoku EOD School to get the ball rolling."
The initial training established the groundwork and allowed EOD to take the first step to cultivate teamwork between the U.S. and Japan in defense of the Indo-Asia-Pacific and future bilateral deployments.
“[Our] training plan sprouted from a bilateral key leader exchange where three of our members demonstrated our airfield recovery capability at Yokota Air Base, Japan in December,” said Pukay-Martin.
Three JASDF Tohoku EOD school instructors previously attended a condensed foreign nations training course at the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. This allowed the initial training to run smoothly, since they already had a basic understanding of the Air Force EOD standard operating procedures.
“Their attention to detail is impeccable,” said Tech. Sgt Warren Long, the 35th CES EOD training NCO in charge. “I was very impressed at their retention of skills when dealing with ground ordnance, making training flow seamlessly and fast.”
The training plan did not come without challenges; one difficulty was communicating information correctly despite the language barrier.
“The most challenging thing I encountered throughout setting up this training was ensuring lessons were properly conveyed,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Beasley, a 35th CES EOD technician and training team lead. “Communicating safety is the most crucial part to our training plan when dealing with unexploded ordnances.”
Moving forward, the 35th CES EOD team will work to strengthen the relationship with the JASDF unit at Misawa with aspirations of the program evolving into regional and even nation-wide exercises.
“We understand this will be a long and difficult road, but we're ecstatic to finally be on our way,” Pukay-Martin said.