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USAF, Marine Corps, showcase commitment with bilateral defense of Okinawa working group.

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kyle Johnson, Airman 1st Class Luis E. Rios Calderon
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps members came together with Japan Self-Defense Force members to increase interoperability by conducting the Bilateral Defense of Okinawa Working Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan, June. 3-6, 2024.

“The purpose of BDOWG is to further develop Joint and Bilateral tactics, techniques and procedures in the Southwest sector of Japan,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph Disk, 18th Operational Support Squadron Exercises and Plans Flight commander.

The working group, previously a simple sharing of procedures, has developed into an annual event that allows all participating services to learn and discuss ways to increase the overall defense of Okinawa in a contingency environment.

This year, the Marines are taking the lead with U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Patt Kearney, 1st Marine Air Wing, future operations exercise planner, at the helm.

“Every BDOWG is a collaborative effort between all three services,” Kearney said. “We can all achieve a more robust common understanding of what we do here in Okinawa and why.”

The bulk of the conversation this year honed in on the island’s integrated air and missile defense systems and its ability to rapidly repair damage that is incurred, Kearney said.

An example of such recovery efforts is the rapid airfield damage repair program that is practiced at most Air Force bases. However, in Okinawa’s case, Marines, JSDF and Airmen will all work together for rapid recovery, which requires forward-thinking planning with events like BDOWG.

“[These concepts] are critical to the success of aviation units following damage to the airfield,” Kearney said. “To do that effectively, we’ve broadened the scope of our participation to units that we have not integrated with in the past, like Marine Corps Installations Pacific and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.”

BDOWG also opens opportunities for the coordination of other multi-lateral training programs, like the Assault Support conference the 1st MAW is having with JGSDF while BDOWG is going on – extending the discussion to helicopter interoperability between the two nations.

That coordination will further the ability of the U.S. and Japan to operate in an all-domain fight with assault support aircraft close to the surface while defending against adversary aircraft and missiles at high altitudes, Kearney said.

Language and culture differences can become a barrier when communicating with partner nations even without the added complexity of contingency. Practice mitigates or eliminates those challenges.

“BDOWG is a phenomenal opportunity to have a direct role in the bigger picture of our area of operations,” Kearney said. “It cannot be understated how important it is to develop relationships every time we get to communicate, share ideas and work with our bilateral and joint partners.

“I am fortunate to be in a position to further those relationships and help facilitate the things that will make Okinawa safer, more resilient and more interoperable.”