9 July 2019
by STAFF SGT. J.D. STRONG
Photo By Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II | U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) soldiers pose for a group photo after a combatives exchange at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, July 1, 2019. The purpose of the joint exchange was to share Japanese combative techniques and forge relationships between CJTF-HOA and the JGSDF. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II) (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers participated in a combatives exchange at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, July 1 and July 5.
The purpose of the joint exchange was to share Japanese combative techniques and forge relationships between CJTF-HOA and the JGSDF.
“Today went good,” said Capt. Satoshi Masuda, Japanese liaison officer assigned to CJTF-HOA. “I believe the U.S. Soldiers learned something new today. I think it was a great chance for them to know our mindsets and how we fight.”
According to Masuda, joint training is important not only for the building of friendships but because it enables the different sides to observe and learn other perspectives, exchange information, opinions and skills.
“It’s important to work with our coalition partners to have a familiarity in different cultures and build bonds,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Presti, platoon leader, 101st Division, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Warrior, assigned to CJTF-HOA. “We will definitely start forming friendships and build those bridges so if we ever meet each other downrange or work together in the future, we will already have that interoperability established.”
During the training the U.S. service members were given several different lessons from the JGSDF’s 16th infantry regiment company. The lessons included grappling techniques, karate and basic jukendo training.
“I think it was very cool and very informative,” said Presti. “We all definitely had a good time. We enjoyed it and are very appreciative that they came out and were willing to bring their equipment, suit us up and let us have some fun.”
Though the exchange could have potentially been limited because of language barriers, a translator was there to make communication between the two parties seamless.
“Both of my parents are Japanese,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Seishi To, translator and fly away security team medic non-commissioned officer in charge of the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey National Guard, Task Force Warrior, assigned to CJTF-HOA. “In order to converse with them and my relatives back home, I continued to hone my proficiency in Japanese. It’s nice to have a skill in another language in order to assist with us building a relationship with different countries’ personnel. I believe that every unit’s Soldiers have different skill sets that we may be able to learn from.”
According to To, this is not the first time CJTF-HOA Soldiers and the JGSDF have partnered for training. Earlier this year, the two forces gathered to participate in a tactical combat casualty care course. The course was part of a two-day subject matter expert medical exchange that focused on first-aid methodologies between the two partner nations in Djibouti.