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Okinawa Bilateral Senior Enlisted Professional Exchange

  • Published
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. military senior enlisted leaders from across Okinawa met Nov. 14, 2023, to share information, discuss quality of life factors and build an operational picture of the bilateral defense of Okinawa.

As part of the event, they met with Japan Self-Defense Forces SELs on Kadena, then again at Naha Air Base before touring the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters in Tomigusuku and learning about Okinawa’s history at Peace Memorial Park.

“One of our primary missions here is to assure our allies and partners that we are committed to the security and stability within the region,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brandon Wolfgang, 18th Wing command chief. “Our relationship and interoperability with the JASDF are critical to sharing lessons learned and making each other – and the alliance – stronger in order to deter any potential aggression.”

The U.S./Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region. As the keystone of the pacific, Kadena Air Base provides a mix of combat capabilities as a powerful deterrent and as well as staging platform for disaster relief and other humanitarian operations in the region.

Wolfgang also said such support would be impossible without close collaboration between joint and bilateral SELs. They use their insight of units’ readiness, training, morale and discipline to ensure lethal capabilities through the enlisted force.

Nearly 18,000 Americans work on Kadena Air Base, a large majority of which are enlisted personnel and their families. 

Events like these ensure the individuals who are positioned to influence that majority have the information necessary to do so with strategic perspectives.

“The more we can share our successes and our challenges, and then incorporate lessons learned into our units, the more capable we become as a combat force,” Wolfgang said.

Southern Air Self-Defense Force senior enlisted advisor, Warrant Officer Yutaka Uehara gave his thanks and appreciation to the 18th Wing Command Chief and team at Naha Air Base, for putting the event together and emphasized the importance of familiarity in the defense of Okinawa.