U.S., Japan integrate to perfect safety, security response capabilities

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Sirens screamed from the voices of fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles while U.S. and Japan first responders raced across Misawa Air Base during a bilateral emergency management exercise, Aug. 30.

U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force members quickly reacted to a mock improvised explosive device and a simulated aircraft crash, demonstrating the allied forces' dedication to safety and security for their upcoming air show, occurring Sept. 10.

“The objectives from exercising with JASDF for this EME were to evaluate our communication, hone current bilateral operations and also identify capabilities we could potentially establish joint agreements on,” said Master Sgt. Reinhard Albuera, the EME lead inspector. “It's vital to exercise incidents like this because if a real-world emergency were to happen, both USAF and JASDF will be prepared to respond in unison.”

This annual bilateral exercise enhances base-wide contingency plans and strengthens the 35th Fighter Wing’s partnership with JASDF, or Koku-Jieitai. Once the exercise initiated, both countries’ first responders tended to simulated personnel injuries and an aircraft shell engulfed in flames while expediting response time and recall procedures together, which was a first.

“Even though the JASDF medical team has participated in previous EMEs, they practiced their medical response separately from us,” added Albuera. “This year, our plan forced both countries to work together. Our initial assessment of the combined medical response has shown success--it's definitely a big step in the right direction when it comes to our bilateral efforts.”

Additionally, this exercise provided a platform to inform guests about security procedures expected upon entering Misawa AB during the festival. Local media outlets featured the IED portion of the exercise, capturing the U.S. and Koku-Jieitai’s safety and security procedures.

“The safety of our guests is the highest priority for both USAF and JASDF commanders at Misawa,” said Koku-Jieitai Lt. Col. Yusuke Shibata, the 3rd Air Wing Defense Section chief of defense operations division, during an interview with local Japanese reporters. “In today’s world, possible threats have been executed during events that attract a lot of guests, like the air show.”

This year’s festival forecasts a crowd of nearly 100,000 guests, which means heightened security measures.

“Because of the hard work, passion and attention to detail our first responders exemplify, they can protect us against possible threats,” said Maj. Tyson Daw, the air show project officer, who also interviewed with local Japanese media. “We ask that if you are attending the show, please be patient when entering our gates and if long wait times occur--this is only for the complete safety of our wonderful guests attending this event.”

As sirens faded into the distance and the exercise concluded, Team Misawa members reflected on their actions showcased during the EME and channeled their thoughts to the upcoming air show. The festival will showcase more than 15 different airframes from various U.S. military services, JASDF and the civilian sector.