U.S., Japan intel experts integrate during training

The 35th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analysts and Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts plot coordinates on a map in preparation for Red Flag-Alaska 17-2, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. RF-A is a field training exercise in a simulated combat environment that ensures the highest level of readiness within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

The 35th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analysts and Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts plot coordinates on a map in preparation for Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A) 17-2, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. RF-A is a field training exercise in a simulated combat environment that ensures the highest level of readiness within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force member from Camp Ichigaya, Japan, plots coordinates on a chart during a week-long integration with the 35th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analysts in preparation for Red Flag-Alaska 17-2, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. RF-A is a series of field training exercises that provide joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. The training ensures every moving part of a contingency plan is at the highest state of readiness in defense of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force member plots coordinates on a chart during a week-long integration with the 35th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analysts in preparation for Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A) 17-2, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. RF-A is a series of field training exercises that provide joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. The training ensures every moving part of a contingency plan is at the highest state of readiness in defense of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force member from Yokota Air Base, Japan, briefs Lt. Col. Kevin Lord, the 35th Operations Support Squadron commander, as part of the mission planning cell at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. Over the course of a week the 35th OSS intelligence analysts dedicated over 50 hours familiarizing four Japan Air Self-Defense Forces counterparts on mission-set requirements for RED FLAG-Alaska, 17-2. This exercise is one of several that the U.S. and Japan participate in, ensuring the “fight tonight” mentality is strengthened. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force member briefs U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Lord, the 35th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) commander, as part of the mission planning cell at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2017. Over the course of a week the 35th OSS intelligence analysts dedicated over 50 hours familiarizing four Japan Air Self-Defense Forces counterparts on mission-set requirements for Red Flag-Alaska, 17-2. This exercise is one of several the U.S. and Japan participate in, ensuring the “fight tonight” mentality is strengthened. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

The 35th Operations Support Squadron intelligence analysts dedicated more than 50 hours, from May 22 to 26, to familiarizing four Japan Air Self-Defense Forces intelligence analysts from multiple bases throughout Japan, on skills and techniques required for Red Flag-Alaska 17-2 in order to improve interoperability between the U.S. and Japan.

“The primary goal was preparing the JASDF members on intel practices they'll be expected to execute at RF-A, including leading air tasking order break outs, order of battle plotting, frag drop briefs, mass briefs, pre-mission briefs, debriefs and writing requests for information and mission reports,” said 2nd Lt. Menji Chiem, 35th OSS combat intelligence cell deputy chief. “We essentially established the foundation for their focus by familiarizing them with tasks typically associated with those roles.”

Two of the bilateral exchange days consisted of briefs and practical exercises which were designed to reinforce both countries' abilities to conduct mission-set tasks; three days were scenarios that allowed the group to apply the skill sets learned during the briefs.

“This familiarization is a vital tool to exercise success because with every job or mission, practice makes perfect,” said Airman 1st Class Andrew Sullivan, a 35th OSS combat intelligence analyst. “We will use the knowledge gained from the interaction and have greater triumph at RF-A.”

The JASDF members, also known as Koku-Jieitai, brought a different approach on how to do specific tasks and it broadened everyone’s perspective in preparation for RF-A, Sullivan added.

Integrating with Koku-Jieitai counterparts ensured both nations came away with situational awareness, tools and expertise for successful representation during the exercise.

“This is the first time they [JASDF] will be participating in the exercise as part of an effort to stand up their own squadron level intelligence,” Chiem said. “I’m excited to see how they will apply the concepts we’ve exchanged with them.”

RF-A is a series of field training exercise scenarios that provide joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment.

During the exercise the Koku-Jieitai participants will support their F-15J Eagles as part of the coalition.

“Japan and its self-defense forces are one of our biggest allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater,” Chiem said. “The skills honed at RF-A are ultimately applied to real world, adversary threats in the Pacific Command area of responsibility.”

After duty hours, the U.S. and Koku-Jieitai members continued to break down barriers by going bowling, playing Ultimate Frisbee and singing karaoke.

“We set the precedent between our career fields for future bilateral exchanges,” Chiem added.

As a result of this exchange, relations strengthened between U.S. and Koku-Juitai members will carry on into RF-A and beyond.

“The Koku-Jieitai members were an amazing group of people to work with,” Sullivan said. “This was my first time working with foreign partners and it was an experience of a lifetime. I look forward to upcoming opportunities to work with them.”

RF-A 17-2 takes place June 8 to 23.