MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Members of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron VQ-1, stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., participated in an annual unit exchange with members of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Air Reconnaissance Squadron VQ-81 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Dec. 8–Dec. 10, 2015.
Members of both squadrons have participated in this event since 1994 in hopes of increasing their unit interoperability and building upon the relationship they have developed over the years.
“The JMSDF VQ-81 was established in 1983, and that is when our relationship began,” said JMSDF Capt. Katsushi Ohkubo, commanding officer of VQ-81. “VQ-1 taught our unit many operational techniques since our first unit exchange, so we have made it an annual event since 1994.”
Ohkubo said with each progressing year, the unit’s trust and dependability on one another has grown.
“The U.S. secretary of defense and Japanese defense minister agreed to approve new, revised guidelines for U.S. and Japan defense cooperation,” said Ohkubo. “These guidelines refer to bilateral cooperation in times of peace and include bilateral activities in a mutually supportive manner. I believe my squadron and the naval VQ-1 are the units to execute these real world missions and hope the sailors make good use of opportunities like this to deepen our mutual relationship, strengthening our coordination in execution of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.”
Sailors from the visiting unit said they were impressed with their host unit’s hospitality and enjoyed reinforcing their friendship.
“My sailors were impressed beyond measure with the professionalism, aptitude and generosity of VQ-81,” said Lt. Cmdr. Justin Gerle, officer in charge of Commander Task Group 72.5. “Besides accomplishing all of our goals, we also cemented a personal bond of friendship with our Japanese counterparts and look forward to working with them again.”
As far as future exchanges between these two units goes, most information remains confidential between them, but Ohkubo said they plan on meeting again next year in hopes of increasing their unit cohesion and interoperability even further, bolstering their friendship and ensuring the success of each unit.