AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

Language-enabled Airmen support medical training initiatives with Japanese partners at Kadena Air Base

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

When the Japanese Self Defense Forces’ medical team from Naha Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, visited the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, for capabilities familiarization training, three language-enabled Airmen led the charge in facilitating partnership building by bridging language and cultural gaps.

This initiative is an ongoing effort between partner nations to build relationships and interoperability for future training and exercises. The event provided U.S. and JSDF members with an understanding of the mission and mutual capabilities to support medical operations and aeromedical evacuation.

“Everyone benefits from these initiatives. Our cultural and military alliances are strengthened, our techniques and tactics are improved, language skills are exercised, and we grow personally, too,” said Maj. Christian Coleman, 18th AES Director of Operations.

Tagalog Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar Maj. Jewelyn De La Cruz served as the event organizer. She solicited the help of Japanese LEAP Scholar Capt. Jarem Tano and Staff Sgt. Yeongjun Kwon - a fluent Japanese speaker at Kadena Air Base - to provide language support and cultural context during the visit. These Airmen played a critical role in the event’s success by providing their support and expertise in language translation and cultural engagement.

The 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is the sole aeromedical evacuation unit in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region, supporting 24/7 patient movement capabilities for internal and external theater missions. During their visit, the JSDF medical team had the opportunity to learn about the daily operations, training programs, and aeromedical evacuation capabilities of the 18th AES.

“For me, these personal interactions are foundational in building and maintaining the larger organizational partnership and relationship. The support from the Japanese linguists made a huge difference in ensuring both organizations were able to effectively communicate with each other,” Maj. De La Cruz said.

The goal for the Kadena Air Base team is to have ongoing future engagements between 18th AES and the Naha Air Base medical team with the help of language-enabled Airmen like De La Cruz, Tano, and Kwon.

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