Essay | Japan Ministry of Defense


My Participation in RIMPAC 2006 by Hidekazu Tokutome 1st Lieutenant 7th Air Force Group

Hidekazu Tokutome
1st Lieutenant
7th Air Force Group

I had a good opportunity to join the US dispatched training including RIMPAC 2006. I was excited with a big joy in this training as a pilot of P-3C in this historical 20th event. This was my first time experience since I joined as a pilot including pacific flight. After I took off with some sense of fear from Kaya Base on June 9, I did not have any big troubles at the flight and landed at Hawaii as our destination of hope.

This time we, P-3C troops used Kaneohe Base, MCBH of US Marine Corps as our muster base. This base is located at the southeast part of Oaf island (c.a. 30 minutes drive from Honolulu) and surrounded by beautiful beach and is ideal for life and used for US Marine Corp, of course.

Soon after we arrived, various plan for preliminary training was made, prior to main training at RIMPAC. The most memorial event among the plan was training flight above Hawaii islands. For aircraft training, flight training is made including take-off and landing exercise at Oaf Island and surrounding areas other than Kaneohe Air Base supposing the case of unable landing at muster air base by troubled weather and emergency.

Air base used was five in total, all of which was used for taking off and landing for the first time and gave me some feeling of uncertainty. However we could solve major possible problems by making prior discussions among us including the controller at Honolulu Air Base and US pilots. This time P-3C pilot joined in the flight and helped with advice. That relieved our uncertainties very much.

The person who joined in the flight was a female pilot, a Major at US Navy. I remember some complex of relief and rivalry as a representative of JMSDF, when she came on board.

Though my flight training was not smooth, (as was noticed maybe by the Major), I could complete my training without major problems with good help of a major.

It was really a good experience that I could fry over five islands including Hawaii, Kauai, and Molokai for the first time in a limited time schedule and that finally I could make a night time approach at the heavy-traffic Honolulu International Airport.

I had no particular troubles or uncertainties for operating the flight after RIMPAC started by making prior training. I think I have completed our training smoothly compared with other member countries, from the view point of tactics and mutual management of equipment and back-up systems. This success owes to our daily contacts in depth of US and Japan through their friendship events including joint training and other arrangements. I think.

I strongly believe that I could accumulate precious knowledge and experience by joining this RIMPAC.

One of that is an attention to securities. I had originally an impression of US Navy that they could have a principle of priority to duty before risk'. However conductor's message says always 'Safety is paramount' and is proved to be the same to that of Marine Force. My thought on safety was influenced by this event.

The second point is that 'US Navy is always facing the actual fighting'. Our base was the base for US Naval Corps, which training we were facing almost every day. Their severe training gave us the strong impression that their battlefield is located on the spot and not so far from the spot.

We had several occasions of mourning ceremony in the base for the victims of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and had frequent reports of media for such mourning ceremonies, we reached to the conclusion that training for the purpose of training should not be acceptable. In this sense I must confess that we are far behind US Navy, our alliance party, although we are comparable in terms of the skills of tactics. I believe that our Marine Force will make a remarkable performance by this training in case of emergency,
I have much to learn from US Navy in this principle. I think.

We had many occasions of joint training so far with P-3C of US Navy in Japan, but we did not have exchange of friendship with US Navy other than the flight training such as RIMPAC. Our confidence will grow next time and make our training much smooth, as we can expect that we could be in the same sky with our pilot member who attended this training program, although, we cannot see the faces each other.

Last but not least, taking this opportunity, I would like to express our thanks to all the members of US Navy and other parties concerned for your faithful support. I strongly believe that our success of training owes very much to your hospitality not only in the area of training but also in the daily life corresponding to our poor English with good smile and patience. (End)