News: Allies tour Camp Higashi-Chitose
Story by Spc. Chalon Hutson
CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan – The roaring tank came to a stop and the sergeant major dismounted - his tanker skills had not worn-off.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Norman III, I Corps senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Koyamada Hidehiro, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Northern Army command sergeant major, and several other U.S. and Japan participants of Yama Sakura 65, a bilateral exercise between U.S. and JGSDF members, toured three sites across Camp Higashi-Chitose, Japan, Dec. 9.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas, tactics, techniques, and procedures, especially at the non-commissioned officer level,” said Norman. “From that point of view, we have learned a lot from each other.”
Norman worked with Japanese leadership for years as the former senior enlisted leader of U.S. Army-Japan and seemed in his element among his Japanese peers. Norman and Koyamada compared their opinions and experiences during the tour.
“I learned a lot about the differences between Japan and the U.S., especially about negotiations and customs,” Koyamada said. “We have a mutual understanding with Command Sgt. Maj. Norman.”
Norman, Koyamada and other senior enlisted leaders first arrived at a Ground Infantry Combat Shooting Simulation center, which is similar to the U.S. military’s Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) 2000. Inside the GICSS, the group fired imitation Type-89 rifles in multiple scenarios.
After that session, the group visited the Shiryoukam Museum to learn about the histories of the Japanese military and Camp Higashi-Chitose by viewing Japanese historical documents, artifacts, weapons and more.
The final stop was a tank drivers training course where the group admired several tracked and wheeled vehicles. The trip ended with Norman and Payton riding in the Type-90 tank, with Norman driving it across the tank range toward the end.
“I think the way these events build bilateral partnership is through an understanding of each other’s methods and equipment,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Mullen, tour participant. “It shows how alike we are, even though we have different cultures, different societies, and different customs. We fight and build teams together for the same purpose, working toward the same ends.”