CHITOSE, Japan - Rain, snow and cloud cover can all hinder operations on the battlefield. Fortunately there are Air Force personnel constantly working to give the latest updates and information on how that weather may impact the fight.
Yama Sakura 65, a five-day bilateral military simulation exercise, partnered I Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Northern Army together to build partnerships and unity as part of realignment in the Pacific region.
Capt. Kalen Knippling, staff weather officer, 1st Weather Squadron, was given the task of monitoring and trackingJapan's weather patterns during YS 65.
“We are taking the weather forecast and linking that to how it will impact the missions,” said the Chamberlain, S.D., native. “We take what is happening in the atmosphere and apply it to how the temperature will effect the ground Soldiers, how turbulence effects flights and how waves can impact maritime assets.”
Knippling is not fighting this digital battle alone. Her counterpart from the JGSDF said the exercise an opportunity to work with the U.S. Air Forces and maximize their skills.
“I have a great feeling working with the American military,” said 1st Lt. Hiroshi Katsuse, staff weather officer, Northern Army. “She shares my specialty and we are able to talk about weather at a very high level. She is really very smart and a very good person to talk with about work.”
The language barrier provided some complications teaming the Air Force and the JGSDF together, but their shared expertise eased the burden tremendously.
“The language barrier was difficult. However the interpreter does an excellent job translating for us,” said Knippling. “But the meteorology is going well. Sometimes we might have a different term for something but we can explain it to each other in a way that we know what each other is talking about.”
For Katsuse, the potential of doing more Yama Sakura exercises is very appealing and he hopes to do work with Americans in the future to expand his English language skills.
“I want to be involved in Yama Sakura with the Americans because I want to learn more English and their specialties,” he said. “English is my first priority in order to be able to communicate and make Yama Sakura more effective.”
After the exercise is completed Dec. 11, Katsuse, said he hopes maintain the working relationship he has developed with the Air Force captain.
“I feel like I have been able to successfully remove the cultural barricade between American and the Japanese," he said. "I want to continue staying in contact with her after Yama Sakura and continue to share ideas.”