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USFJ command chief visits Kadena

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The newly appointed U.S. Japan and 5th Air Force command chief recently visited Kadena Air Base to meet with Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. 

During his three-day visit, Chief Master Sgt. Craig Deatherage toured the base, attended the base's 9/11 remembrance ceremony, and spoke about his focus areas as the senior enlisted advisor. 

One of the chief's main focus areas is the bilateral relationship with Japan. 

"Japan is one of the most crucial alliances we have," said Chief Deatherage. "Japan occupies a very strategic spot in the Pacific theater and we have developed and sustained one of the greatest friendships in the world." 

The chief said Kadena's presence here is strategically important for the nation of Japan as well as for the regional stability of the Pacific theater. 

The chief also said exchange programs offer opportunities for strengthening that relationship. 

"We are working daily to provide opportunities such as the NCO exchange program," said Chief Deatherage. "We want to get our people into their [the Japanese] work centers and their people into ours so we can share good ideas and learn from each other." 

Chief Deatherage said he also would like to see an exchange program between the services. 

"I believe as we get to know each other and develop friendships with our sister services, we gain a greater respect for each other's culture and the way we do business," he said. "In the end, we all bring home good ideas to our respective service to make ourselves better in the service of our nation." 

The military family is another main focus area for the USFJ/5th AF command chief.
"I want to make sure we continue our focus on the military family," said Chief Deatherage. "Our children, schools and services are all vitally important in maintaining the military family and helping us treat our people the way they deserve to be treated as they go about the business of defending our friends and loved ones." 

Revisiting Kadena 11 years after his assignment here, Chief Deatherage said the only thing that had changed was the higher level of professionalism displayed by its members. 

"I'm very proud of what our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are doing here on a daily basis," said Chief Deatherage. "I'm proud that our people represent themselves so well every day as Americans living in Japan and I'm also grateful for the sacrifice families make when they relocate, staying with their husbands and wives serving in our military." 

The chief also recommended making the most of being assigned here by learning about the local culture and language. 

"Kadena members are living in a wonderful area full of opportunity," said Chief Deatherage. "As you go out and about and travel in this region, I would encourage two things: get out of the base as often as you can and learn about the culture and people, and learn the local language, even just a few basic words and phrases." 

The chief said those here will enjoy their tour much more if they make the effort to learn the language and are able to exchange ideas with our Okinawan and Japanese hosts.