SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11, Detachment 9, from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., participated in joint training operations with members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal team May 29 in Sasebo, Japan.
Lt. John Laney, EODMU 11, Det. 9's officer in charge, said that every opportunity that his EOD unit has to work with JMSDF is a chance to strengthen the bond between the United States and Japan.
"While I cannot do that single-handedly," he said, "I can focus on my specialty (EOD), and improving relationships between American EOD and our Japanese counterparts."
While fostering relationships, the joint training allowed EODMU 11 Det. 9 Sailors to share information on how they address some of the problems that joint U.S. forces have been facing in Iraq with respect to improvised explosive devices.
Laney said that the JMSDF EOD team is incredibly proficient at their job, but their training is limited to surface and sub-surface explosive devices within the marine environment. As a result, the training that Det. 9 provided was both new and insightful.
As part of the training, Det. 9 Sailors demonstrated X-ray techniques with their portable X-ray machine, which is used to identify the type of IED in question and discern the makeup and location of the component parts within the device. According to Laney, these components can vary greatly from device to device.
Laney said that while the specific techniques used in the X-ray process were not familiar to his Japanese counterparts, they were accustomed to using larger X-ray devices for identification purposes in mine countermeasure (MCM) work.
Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposalman (EWS) C.J. Cowlin, the EOD chief from EODMU 5, Detachment 51 located in Sasebo, said that the topics covered in the training are of secondary importance.
"It is important to always try to coordinate training [with the Japanese], to interface, to increase exposure, and to share capabilities," Cowlin said. "It helps in the global war on terror to have a strong front, and it takes sharing knowledge to get there.
"In the Pacific theatre, Japan is our (the United States') primary ally," he said.
For this reason, Cowlin said, it is difficult to overstate the value of having operational relationships in as many areas of the world as possible.
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