Dear Members and Friends,
Last night in Yokota Air Base, on the Kanto plain of Japan and home to the Japan Air Defense Command, we hosted with the leadership of the Japanese Air Defense – Commander Lieutenant General Hiroaki Maehara, Lieutenant General Yoshizo Ono, Vice Commander, Major General Akira Asai, Chief of Staff, Major General Nobutomo Sato, Commander Air Tactics Development Wing, a historic first event bringing all three branches of the Japanese Self Defense Forces – Air, Maritime and Land – together to be recognized for their leadership excellence in the missile defense of Japan. Alongside them, we recognized six U.S. service members deployed in Japan from the Air Force, Navy and Army for their leadership excellence in the missile defense of Japan presented by Major General James Pasquarette, Commander United States Army Japan and 1st Corps.
2017 Japan Missile Defender of the Year Award Winners
- Lieutenant Colonel Ri Harada – Japan Air Self Defense Force – 1st Fire Unit, 1st Air Missile Defense Group, Tokyo, Japan
- First Lieutenant Taichi Kuramochi – Japan Ground Self Defense Force – 1st Company, 32nd Infantry, Tokyo, Japan
- Lieutenant Commander Makoto Miyake – Japan Maritime Self Defense Force – DDG Chokai Kongo Class BMD Ship Sasebo, Japan
- Lieutenant Colonel Karen Carmichael- United States Air Force – Chief of Plans 5th Air Force, Yokota AFB
- Lieutenant Anthony MelendezDiaz – United States Navy – Joint Interface Control Officer, United States Forces Japan, Yokota AFB
- Fire Controlman First Class Carl Morinville – United States Navy – USS Shiloh (CG 67) Yokosuka, Japan
- Master Sergeant Lester Prescott – United States Army – 94th AAMDC Liaison to Japan Air Defense Force, Yokota AFB
- Sergeant First Class Michael Perry – United States Army – AN/TPY- 2 forward based radar Shariki, Japan
- Specialist Arjun Sharma – United States Army – AN/TPY-2 forward based radar Kyogamisaki, Japan
We honored the importance of their roles, services and most of all the team effort between the two nations to defend Japan during the most provocative actions this past year by North Korea and China. North Korea with two nuclear tests and over 40 ballistic missile tests, China’s action in the Spratly Islands and South China Sea, and the awareness of North Korea having nuclear capability and ballistic means to potentially deliver on Japan. We recognized these leaders for having maintained peace and stability for over 127 million people that live in Japan during the extremely challenging situations of this past year.
We have been around the world working on missile defense issues and Japan is the United States’ strongest ally in missile defense with its commitment, its interoperability, its capability, its capacity, its resource and burden sharing in development and deployment that is second to no other ally. The relationship began in 1984 when President Reagan signed a bilateral study on Ballistic Missile Defense with Japan, it has flourished to where we are today.
No other country has contributed more with the United States on missile defense than Japan, Japan is first.
No other country has interoperability and common U.S. missile defense systems than Japan, Japan is first.
No other country has invested and co-developed a missile interceptor with over $1.5 billion development price tag with the United States, Japan is first.
We congratulate the partnership between Japan and the U.S. on the remarkable achievement of SM-3 Block IIA successful test last Saturday, an interceptor that has over twice the range of what we have today to enable earlier intercepts, additional layer of defense, and significant protection from sea and land for Japan. (Alert on Intercept Test) The SM-3 Block IIA is a underlying capability to defend Japan and the United States from ballistic missile threats.
Japan’s partnership capacity building in missile defense development, deployment and operations with the United States contributing to their own defense is the prime example for the world and to all of America’s allies. Riki Ellison, 2017 Japan Missile Defender of the Year, Yokota AFB, Japan, Feb 9, 2017.
In times of being “outranged, outgunned and out dated” as General Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the US Army (article with Gen. Allyn’s statements) states this week, it is imperative to have partnerships with your allies that contribute but even more critical have leadership of your men and women that fight the fight together to overcome and win. Last night we honored and recognized them from Japan and the United States.
Click here to see more about the 2017 Japan Defender of the Year Award Ceremony and listen to a recording of the event.