Bilateral relations strengthen bonds Published Dec. 23, 2008 By Airman 1st Class Garrett Cole 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- While stationed overseas, it's important for every service member to have and maintain a strong relationship with their host country. One of the ways Yokota Airmen are able to achieve this is by participating in bilateral training events with their Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts. Some Yokota Airmen were able to train and share ideas with their Japanese peers recently at Iruma Air Base. This was part of a bilateral exchange between the two country's flying squadrons and maintainers. Normally, Capt. Jack Beene works as the 374th Operations Support Squadron airlift director, but during this event he's a liaison for the 36th Airlift Squadron and the 374th Maintenance Squadron's visit to Iruma Air Base. "We came here today to bring both [our] maintenance and operations [professionals] over," said Captain Beene. "The maintenance people were able to go to the different maintenance facilities, tour around [the facilities] and see how the Japanese support their aircraft operations." While the maintainers were interacting with their counterparts, the Airmen involved with the operations part of the squadron were able to experience what it was like to fly in a C-1 aircraft during an operational mission and watched as the Japanese aircrew accomplished a training drop. "We were able to monitor everything that was happening by listening on the 'interphone' while we flew," said Captain Beene. "We also had the opportunity to view their cockpit, procedures and see how they perform an air drop." The captain's goal during these training exercises is to learn about the daily operations of the JASDF and how the U.S. Air Force can work more efficiently with them. "The importance of this event was to learn from the inside how to operate out of Iruma Air Base and what kind of structure we would need to bring over to fly with the Japanese," the captain said. And the JASDF members were appreciative to have the opportunity to have this interaction with the Airmen as well. "It's really an honor to welcome the U.S. Air Force guys from Yokota," said 1st Lt. Yukio Maruyama, 2nd Tactical Air Group, 402nd Squadron C-1 pilot. "They are very polite and professional while they were watching how we fly. They also seemed to be very interested in what we were doing and it's really good to get to know each other." Yokota servicemembers facilitate bilateral cultural exchange programs like this approximately every three months. Not only is this a way to foster the ties among Japanese and American citizens, but this also helps Yokota's servicemembers cross barriers and build stronger relationships with our host country.