News: 349th Signal hosts local Japanese soldiers for a day
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Howard Reed
TORII STATION, Okinawa, Japan– About 20 Japanese soldiers from the 15th Brigade, Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, gathered for a United States and Japanese military bi-lateral event Oct. 10 on Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan.
The 349th Signal Company, 78th Signal Battalion, sponsored the event to help strengthen the relationship between U.S. and its host nation country. Army 1st Lt. Alexander Horton, the executive officer for 349th Signal Company, explained this was the first bi-lateral event for the unit.
“We invited the JGSDF to provide them with some training and give them a chance to see how we conduct business as a unit,” said Horton.
Japanese soldiers had an opportunity to see how American soldiers prepare for weapons marksmanship with the engagement skills trainer, a virtual marksmanship skills simulator, and were also introduced to how American signal Soldiers splice fiber optic cable for installation.
For many of the 349th Soldiers it was their first time meeting their Japanese counterparts. Staff Sgt. Michael Ackley, a cable and antenna systems supervisor for the 349th Signal Company said he was excited to interact and share with Japanese Soldiers of the 15th Brigade.
“It’s a great way for us to not only share what we do but to let them know we appreciate being here in their country,” said Ackley.
At the end of the training day it was common to see smiles across the training center from both American and Japanese soldiers. Horton said the unit looks to host more events throughout the year and the relationships his soldiers developed with their Japanese counterparts could potentially go further than today’s event.
“I actually had an opportunity to meet their signal officer Lieutenant Sugumara during a United States Army Japan sponsorship program at Camp Zama, “ said Horton. “So you never know you could possibly see your counterpart somewhere down the road in the future.”