By Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A member of the 21st Dental Squadron provided invaluable support to the Chief of Staff, Japan Air-Self Defense Force during the 2015 Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium on Sept. 10-20.
Lt. Col. Brett Chung served as a translator and cultural awareness expert as he helped liaise with Gen. Saitoh, and the rest of the Japanese delegation.
The goal of the symposium was to further partnerships with the Asia-Pacific air forces by showcasing the use of airpower in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and presenting a forum to discuss training standardization to improve Air Force interoperability, said Chung, who was born and raised in Japan.
In addition to the U.S. and Japan, there were eight other partner nations who participated in the symposium, he said.
The symposium is typically held every other year and after providing support at the last event, Pacific Air Forces reached out to the 21st Space Wing requesting his services.
“I received a very short notice request about a week prior to the event,” said Chung, who PCS’d here from Hawaii in August.
With a short timeline and the blessing of his leadership, Chung headed for the Pentagon several days before the event for a coordination briefing and preparation, and then headed to Hawaii to meet the delegation.
Over the next 10 days, the delegation visited several key bases including Hickam, Andrews, Scott and Charleston, participated in several events and even attended an U.S. Air Force reenlistment ceremony and a professional baseball game on Air Force appreciation day.
Chung said that one of the goals of this year’s symposium was to enhance partnerships during humanitarian support and disaster relief, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, where there have been several large scale disasters, like the recent earthquakes in Nepal.
“This event enabled the decision makers to meet and discuss capabilities in person, with the goal of enhancing communication and response time in the event of future disasters,” he said. “Gen. Saitoh voiced repeatedly that his nation and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force were very grateful for the U.S. Air Force initiative and partnership for providing the air chiefs from 10 Asia-Pacific nations the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other at both a personal and professional level. A 72-hour time frame is a key critical response time after a large scale disaster hits. This event will lead to more sophisticated coordination and prompt and effective response among the partner nations and will ultimately lead to saving more lives during (humanitarian assistance/disaster relief) situations.”
For the ten-day symposium, Chung was at Gen. Saitoh’s side nearly the entire time. He added he was very thankful for the opportunity to take part in such a key, imperative event hosted by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Mark Welsh.
“Both the U.S. and Japan are very important countries to me,” said Chung, who also has family in Japan. “Any way I can get involved to contribute, support, and enhance the relationship between these two nations, I am happy to do so.”