Kadena Air Base / November 2013
MDAA was honored to host the Inaugural Okinawa Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony with missile defense forces from Japan and the United States of America at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.
This unique event was about two critical things; one, the recognition of excellence and leadership of individuals that represent the very best of the best of those missile defense war fighters deployed in Okinawa. Their leadership, excellence, and will, impel, motivate, and inspire their teammates to raise their levels of professionalism so that their teams, their platoons, their batteries, their battalions, and their groups can be greater than they are. This select group is a tremendous asset in their mission.
The 2013 Okinawa Missile Defenders of the Year award winners are:
- SrA Soushi Morimura of Japan’s 5th Air Defense Missile Group
- SPC Abigail Ransaw of the United States’ 1-1 Air Defense Artillery
- SrA Tomoaki Miura of Japan’s 5th Air Defense Missile Group
- SFC Martinis Butler of the United States’ 1-1 Air Defense Artillery
- 1Lt Yoshifumi Iwabuchi of Japan’s 5th Air Defense Missile Group
- SGT Erick Forsythe of the United States’ 1-1 Air Defense Artillery
- Sgt Yoshiyuki Watanabe of Japan’s 5th Air Defense Missile Group
- PFC Jacob Maxwell of the United States’ 1-1 Air Defense Artillery
- SrA Tatsuhiro Oyama of Japan’s 5th Air Defense Missile Group
- SPC Robert Myers of the United States’ 1-1 Air Defense Artillery
The second important achievement of our event is the recognition of our teammate, Japan. Japan is our partner who collaboratively performs this critical mission of defending Okinawa alongside the United States. The recognition of Japan’s missile defense war fighters enhances and improves our relationship with them and jointly helps build our partnership capacity that ensures a greater defense by both countries rather than a dependency on one country.
We are extremely honored, proud as the United States of America to have Japan as our strongest missile defense partner out of all of the 22 nations that have partnerships with the United States on missile defense. Japan invests close to 4.8 billion dollars a year into missile defense, the most of our other allies. Their capabilities are in lock step with ours as Japan currently has 24 Patriot Batteries/Units deployed throughout Japan and four current and soon to be six Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Kongo Class ships in their seas outfitted with SM-3 Block IA missiles. The United States in turn has five BMD Aegis Ships assigned to the 7th Fleet stationed out of Yokosuka, Japan, two AN/TYPY-2 forward-based radars in mainland Japan and four Patriot batteries. Both nations are co developing the SM-3 Block IIA next generation missile together that will be deployed on US Aegis BMD Ships, Japan Kongo Class Ships and Aegis Shore Sites in Europe. On this island in the middle of the entrance to the East China Sea, there are eight Patriot Advanced Capabilty-3 firing Batteries/Units, four from each country, defending this island that is halfway between China and mainland Japan.
There is a significant advantage here in Okinawa as our Japanese partners and teammates have a self-defense force that force multiplies our defenses here. This great joint defensive capability needs to continue to grow as it is securing stability, peace, and preventing war in this region.
The men and women from Japan and the United States that were recognized and their units deployed here, defend the home of the largest offensive fighter wing in the world, the United States Air Force’s 18th Air Wing and defend the air support of the 7th Fleet and the George Washington Battle Group. Their capability along with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force assets help to shape the air and sea space of this region, protecting it from agression.
Distinguished visitors who attended the award ceremony include:
- Lt. Gen. Kousuke Yoshida of the Japan Air Self Defense Force
- Lt. Gen. Yoshiyuki Sugiyama of the Japan Air Self Defense Force
- BG Daniel Karbler of United States Army
- Col. Kazuhiko Tsuda of the Japan Air Self Defense Force
- LTC Benjamin Ogden of the United States Army