US-Japan Alliance Strengthens as Leaders Unite Published Nov. 13, 2019 By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Team Kadena hosted an annual U.S. Forces Japan Joint Bilateral Senior Enlisted Symposium for American and Japanese military leaders from all branches of service of both nations. More than 50 members gathered for a two-day discussion forum on the growing adversarial influences throughout the Pacific Theater and how to improve bilateral operating concepts for great power competition. In an opening statement, USFJ Commander Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider said, "The United States is signatory to seven mutual defense treaties, five are bilateral, and of all of those treaties the U.S.-Japan alliance is the most important." "This alliance has underwritten peace, security, and stability in this region for over 70 years," Gen. Schneider added. With growing and evolving potential threats to regional stability, according to Gen. Schneider, leaders of both nations must seek to further strengthen their alliances and partnerships with programs to unite security efforts. USFJ Senior Enlisted Leader, Chief Master Sgt. Rick Winegardner served as the event host for attendees from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, as well as Japan Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces. "This conference is about communication and making connections," said Winegardner. "Continuing to work together will make a difference to the scales of power." Leaders at the symposium emphasized the importance of readiness versus training, and they exchanged success stories of joint task force operations and training among U.S. allies and coalition forces. 3rd Marine Logistics Group Command Master Chief Jonathan M. Carter highlighted the importance of ongoing aircraft maintenance bilateral training partnerships between Misawa Air Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. The program provides Indo-PACOM forces an asymmetric strategic advantage over competitors that deepens interoperability between U.S. and Japanese maintenance personnel. "Our adversaries don't have this," said Winegardner. "We have bilateral relations with 32 other countries, and we have people everywhere around the world. Bilateral relations aren't just about the hardware. It is also the training and our alliance." "This alliance is key to a free and open Indo-Pacific when we talk about winning without fighting," Said Winegardner, "because our adversaries can see how powerful we are when our two nations work together. When we look for opportunities to better ourselves and better our partners, these kinds of conferences open doors."