449th AEG hosts Japan Self-Defense Forces partners

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dhruv Gopinath
  • 406th Air Expeditionary Wing

Airmen of the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron hosted aircraft maintainers from the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ Deployment Air Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE), for an aircraft maintenance exchange at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, July 27, 2023. The primary purpose of the event was to strengthen cooperation between U.S. and Japanese aircraft maintenance units in Djibouti and foster increased understanding of maintenance operations in a deployed environment.

“Djibouti is far from our home country, which places constraints on what we can implement during aircraft maintenance,” says Lt. Cmdr. Takeo Motomura, DAPE chief of maintenance and supply. “Therefore, we proposed the idea of having this exchange so that we can both forge a strong relationship with the U.S. Air Force, built on trust and also help each other solve mutual problems.”

Building local capacity and working alongside allies and partners is a critical contribution to regional security, stability and prosperity in East Africa. While the U.S.-Japan Alliance is centered on the Indo-Pacific, the presence of both forces in Djibouti presents an opportunity to build the partnership in another theater.

“Japan is one of our closest allies so this was the perfect time to start a dialogue at our level between our two countries and build a rapport together,” says Capt. John D’Orsi, 75th EAS chief of maintenance. “We are all maintainers, and regardless of where we are from or what aircraft we maintain, we are all doing the same job here in Africa.”

As part of the exchange, JSDF members toured a pair of the 75th EAS’ C-130J Super Hercules as well as various backshops and spoke directly with fellow aircraft maintainers on some of the intricacies of working with their particular aircraft.

“Today, we were able to improve our knowledge and skills in maintenance and supply,” said Motomura. “We were also able to build a good rapport with our counterparts at the 75th EAS and know we can consult with them for any future problems.”

“We found out that we have a lot in common, their maintenance unit is comprised of similar positions to ours and we share some of the same challenges in this environment,” said D’Orsi. “Learning about their maintenance practices was an amazing opportunity for our unit.”

Apart from just building their technical skills, both Japanese and Americans were able to walk away with a better understanding of one another and each other’s culture.

“We found ourselves conversing about our cultures, family and home life,” said Senior Airman Matthew Canelos, 75th EAS crew chief. “This was not only a good learning experience, but having the chance to strengthen our friendship and understanding of each other is something all of us will not soon forget.”