MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Midday, a loud boom echoed across Misawa’s flight line during a bilateral emergency management exercise led by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, Aug. 31.
The exercise was held to prepare USAF and JASDF members in the case of a scenario where a suicide bomber detonates an improvised explosive device, said Master Sgt. Elizabeth Ehrnschwender, a wing self-assessment program manager with the 35th Fighter Wing inspector general’s office.
USAF and JASDF agencies including security forces, medical and fire responded to approximately 60 American and Japanese personnel who simulated various injuries that could occur after an explosion.
“We’ll have an exceptionally large amount of people on the base [during the air show],” Ehrnschwender said. “The risk associated with this is greater than during our normal day-to-day operations, so it’s important the base [knows] we’re ready to respond to an incident.”
Ehrnschwender explained an EME is required to be conducted prior to any air show, and with both JASDF and USAF members planning the event together, they decided to perform the exercise jointly.
“In the planning stages we established who the counterparts are, who the chain of command is for the incident, where people are going to be staged, and where and how we are going to respond,” Ehrnschwender said. “In a real world incident, the JASDF would respond to the Japanese patients who would be taken to a Japanese hospital and we would take care of our own U.S. patients, so it’s important we work together to establish whose role is whose.”
Tech. Sgt. Joseph Helguero, a flight sergeant assigned to the 35th Security Forces Squadron, said he is confident in the exercise and how it has prepared them for any explosive scenario.
“Coordinating with the JASDF is something we do often and we do it well,” Helguero said. “I think we would be able to handle a situation like this if it were to ever occur.”
He added that although the exercise went well, there are always things everyone can improve on.
“Participating in exercises like this help us coordinate better,” Helguero said. “It helps us learn how to function as one unit."