Dr. Takuya Matsuda, YCAPS’ Grand Strategy in Asia research fellow, recently represented the organization at the Leaders Workshop hosted by III Marine Expeditionary Force Communication Strategy and Operations, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, 18th Wing, and Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa through March 28-9, 2023. This workshop was designed to provide civil leaders a better understanding of the unique role that the US military on Okinawa plays and how local community support the U.S.-Japan Alliance.
On the first day, the leaders visited Marine Corps Air Station Futenma where they received briefs from the Marine Corps and the III Marine Expeditionary Force on their contributions to regional security and the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Given the evolving nature of their roles amid the changing strategic environment, the participants were eager to learn more about the way their communities serve regional security. After lunch, they had the unique opportunity to hop on an Osprey to Ie-Jima which is home to a specialized runway designed to train for aircraft operations on an aircraft carrier. Unlike Futenma, Ie-Jima is less densely populated which makes it an ideal location for various important yet active training. The group later flew to the Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC) which is located at the northern tip of the mainland of Okinawa. The JWTC offers various courses familiarize participants with the unique challenges of jungle warfare.
The second day started at Kadena Air Base where the leaders first received a brief from the 18th Wing of the U.S. Air Force on their crucial role in providing regional stability. They subsequently enjoyed a bus tour of the flight line where we observed various unique aircrafts that serve the missions of the Air Force. The group also had the chance to experience engine testing demonstration. In the afternoon they moved to the White Beach Naval Facilities, where they received briefs from the Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa and JMSDF staff who are also based on the base. Along with a visit to the fire department on base and to the Pacific Missile Range Facility Far East Detachment, they visited the pier and were fortunate enough to tour JS Ooyodo, a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer.
Designed to foster an understanding among the local communities on the work that U.S. service members do in Okinawa, the workshop has played a crucial role in bridging the base and local communities which resonates with some of the work that YCAPS does. The workshop was a fascinating opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice where Dr. Matsuda, as a scholar of international security, was able to see first-hand of the great work that U.S. service members do along with the Japanese Self-Defense Force for regional security.