By Mieko Yonaha
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Japan Engineer District representatives here continued a nearly 20-year tradition recently when the unit's deputy commander and Forward Engineer Support Team leader were hosted by Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Engineer School officials at Camp Katsuta in Ibaraki prefecture.
Lt. Col. James C. Horton Jr., the deputy commander, was representing Japan Engineer District, or JED, Commander Col. Bryan P. Truesdell during the visit. Capt. Thomas Douglas, the FEST leader, and representatives of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) were greeted by the school commandant, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, Maj. Gen. Masafumi Akamatsu and members of his staff, plus 14 current students completing the Field Officer Course.
"The purpose of the Unit School Exchange Program is to provide an opportunity for unit leaders to meet and exchange ideas and mission-related information with their JGSDF counterparts," said Yoshifumi Shindo, the Bilateral Engagement Program coordinator, assigned to G-5 at USARJ.
The visit included a demonstration of a Type 7 Maneuver Support Bridge construction, a ride aboard an amphibious vehicle during the deployment and recovery of underwater training mines, and a tour of the vehicle maintenance shop. Briefings about the school and curriculum and a visit to the base history museum for a presentation on the Battle of Peleliu Island broadened bilateral insight, attendees said.
Lunch and a welcome social featuring "takoyaki" (fried balls of dough with octopus) were included. Each student presented a brief verbal biographical introduction in English, which was reciprocated by JED guests, also in English.