Continuing Airlift Magazine’s series on “Strengthening Partnership,” today I will write about the efforts of the USAF Band of the Pacific to strengthen Air Force partnerships across Japan, throughout the PACAF AOR, and right here at Yokota.
One of the key missions of the USAF Band of the Pacific is building and strengthening the bonds of friendship between the American and Japanese people. The importance of this relationship was highlighted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis during his visit to Tokyo earlier this year when he stated “the U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to ensuring that this region remains safe and secure – not just now, but for years to come.” By presenting concerts of American music as uniformed active duty service members, we increase the Japanese public’s connection with U.S. military personnel and build bridges with local communities throughout the country. As we participate in Joint and Combined concerts with other U.S. and Japanese military service bands, we provide the public with a visible demonstration of the partnership and interoperability of our forces and the steady commitment of our governments to mutual security. One example of this joint interaction is an upcoming series of public concerts featuring members of the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force alongside personnel from the Kaijōjieitai (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) and Kokujieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) - tangible evidence of true partnership in action.
The band is committed to fulfilling our part of the PACAF partnership strategy throughout the entire Indo-Asia-Pacific region. One way we accomplish this is by planning missions in combination with ongoing exercises or key events throughout the AOR. Examples include providing a community outreach component for the annual U.S. Forces Korea and Republic of Korea KEY RESOLVE joint exercise and participating in the 2016 Townsville (Australia) International Air Show which featured combined concerts presented by the USAF Band of the Pacific and the Royal Australian Air Force Band. These partnership-building efforts support recommendations from a 2016 DOD-commissioned Center for Strategic and International Studies independent study which suggested: “Exercises should include whole-of-government engagement, creating institutional connections and individual trust before a crisis occurs.” The band also routinely teams with United States Embassies and Consulates throughout the region to help meet diplomatic needs and create new opportunities for building cross-cultural trust. This year alone, in addition to the already mentioned engagements, the band will expand strategic communication effects with targeted outreach in China, India and Vietnam.
In his blog post on 6 April 2017, Lt Col James Cunningham, 374th Comptroller Squadron Commander, wrote that we should “also continue strengthening our partnerships with each other…taking care of Airmen!” Whether it is protocol support for events such as Community College of the Air Force or Airmen Leadership School graduations or through ceremonial support for changes of command, the arrival of new capabilities such as the C-130J Super Hercules, or the rendering of final honors to a fallen comrade, supporting and strengthening our Team Yokota partners is high priority for the Band of the Pacific.
In his post, Col Cunningham also wrote: “Someone once told me that only senior leadership can truly affect our strategic partnerships here in Japan. I humbly submit that is simply not true!” This applies to the band’s outreach efforts. Although it is true that having senior leadership at public events helps demonstrate PACAF’s commitment to partnership building, everyone at Yokota can be part of that endeavor. Band of the Pacific concerts provide a wonderful, “pre-made” opportunity for service members to engage with members of the host community who have shown, through their attendance at a performance, their willingness to engage with Americans and hear our story.
With two rock bands, a jazz band, a brass quintet, and a saxophone quartet, chances are that in the near future the band will be presenting an outreach event that appeals to your tastes within your local community. As always, there is no cost for admission to Band of the Pacific concerts. Great live music and the opportunity to interact with the people of our host nation – partnership building has never been so enjoyable!
-MSgt Scott Wise, Staff Arranger, USAF Band of the Pacific