Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — Vice Commander of the Japanese Air Defense Command, Lt. Gen. Kosuke Yoshida, visited Oct. 18 to tour the annual service practice conducted by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
Yoshida began his tour at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and made stops at the Missile Electronics Bldg. and the WSMR Museum. He visited with WSMR Commanding General Brig. Gen.Gwendolyn Bingham after lunch at the Frontier Club.
Yoshida then traveled to Fort Bliss and had an “office call” with then Col. Scott McKean, the Fort Bliss deputy commanding general.
Yoshida went to McGregor Range, N.M., as the JASDF was conducting training in preparation for the ASP’s fourth Patriot missile live fire this year. He watched as the Japanese firing units were evaluated on movement, emplacement of equipment, and the performance of missile reload crew drills.
Yoshida toured the Oro Grande Target Observation Point, Oct. 19, to view the MQ107 target drone and to tour the Target Control Facility. After viewing the target launch, Yoshida left for MRBC to watch the Patriot missile live-fire.
Army Field Support Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Jason A. Crowe, awaited the arrival of Yoshida at the Observation Firing Point, where they had lunch together.
“We discussed topics ranging from politics and world affairs to local tourists sites,” said Crowe, “It was an honor to have the undivided attention of a foreign flag officer of his stature for the afternoon.”
The pair climbed the Patriot control tower and watched the first missile fire at the MQ107 target drone.
“The coordination to execute the event under controlled conditions was impressive,” said Crowe, adding that this was his first time viewing a Patriot missile live-fire. Yoshida was then transported to the firing point to watch the second fire unit perform the exercise at close range.
This is the 49th ASP hosted by the Unit Training and Certification Division. The UT&C will host 12 JASDF units with each unit conducting its own missile launch. All training and equipment is separately funded and maintained by the Japanese government. UT&C is funded by foreign funds and is why the program remains at Fort Bliss despite the Air Defense Artillery Headquarters moving to Fort Sill, Okla.
Crowe recognizes the benefits of continuing the program at Fort Bliss and the surrounding facilities.
“We gain visibility and credibility as a premiere training installation,” said Crowe,” More importantly, we sustain the friendship and cooperation of our Japanese allies through shared training experiences.”