Kirishima Training Area, Japan – Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 and Sailors with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 traveled from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, respectively, to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Kirishima Training Area at the lower end of Kyushu, Japan. There, they trained with the JGSDF service members from 8th Combat Engineer Battalion, exchanging airfield damage repair (ADR) tactics and procedures. This also marked the first time MWSS-171 trained in Kirishima.
During this two-week span, the three units worked together to construct a concrete pad to be used for future ADR training. This included “excavating, leveling, compacting, spreading, and building the actual base for the pour,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Stevenson, the detachment commander for MWSS-171. Concrete was poured in three phases to complete the concrete pad.
Because each unit uses different standard operating procedures for ADR, the Japanese and U.S. forces shared information with each other to improve one another’s ADR capabilities. “The Japanese have taught us a lot of their rank structure, their capabilities, and, much more importantly, their customs and courtesies,” said U.S. Navy Builder 1st Class Colton Olive, noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the NMCB-3 detachment. “This training was far beyond just construction.”
“There are only a few training areas in the Southern part of Kyushu that allow for large-scale airfield repair training,” said JGSDF 1st Lt. Ryo Higa, a platoon leader of the Amami Area Security Force. “Because of fewer opportunities like this, the training held here will be a great help to improve operational capabilities.”
The Kirishima airfield was previously used by Japanese forces during World War II and this event was the first time in almost 70 years that any unit from any country did any form of construction and training at the airfield. With construction complete, partners and allies can now continue building upon each other’s ADR capabilities during future training opportunities in Kirishima.