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Posted 7/30/2012

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By T.W. Lyman

CAMP ZAMA, Japan-- Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), made his first visit to Japan July 18-20.  A stop in Japan allowed him to witness how USACE is contributing to stability and security in the Pacific through the work accomplished by the approximately 320 district members.  More than half of the Japan District team is comprised of Japanese professionals.  Japan Engineer District is responsible for an area approximately the size of the U.S. East Coast, stretching 1,550 miles from north to south.

"The Japan District employees did a great job showing the new commanding general our role in supporting the services as our military provides increased focus on the Pacific region," said Col. Bryan P. Truesdell, Japan District commander. 

The general’s ambitious schedule began at Japan District’s Okinawa Area Office, the southernmost district office, where he received a general overview of the district’s area of responsibility, mission and diverse customers, which includes all U.S. military services operating in Japan.  The USACE top leader heard about how USACE supports the Marines in Japan from Marine Corps Col. J.D. Covington, the Marine Corps Installations, Pacific deputy commander.  He also learned of the district’s mission to refurbish and replace many Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Japan.                                      

The USACE commanding general and his party then flew on a Marine Corps CH46 helicopter to the northern part of Okinawa where he gained a perspective on construction requirements for replacing Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma.

Day two began with a visit to the newly constructed Navy hospital in Okinawa before heading to Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni where Bostick was briefed by Lee Seeba, Iwakuni program director/resident engineer and Army Capt. Alex Glade, deputy resident engineer about all USACE activities there.  These include the runway relocation project, where the runway was relocated about half a mile offshore to a new 531-acre land reclamation area.   The Iwakuni team briefed the general and his party from the air traffic control tower to provide a bird’s eye view of the entire station and its progress.

At Camp Zama, Bostick was briefed by Kanagawa resident engineer Cedric Bazemore and project engineer Jun Arai at a tunnel widening project.  Bostick also visited the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Central Readiness Force Facility (CRFF) where JGSDF Col. Takeshi Ishimaru, 4th Engineer Group commander, briefed him on the CRFF progress.

Following the Camp Zama visit, the commanding general witnessed the “jointness” of Japan    District’s work when he met Air Force Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, commander, U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ), and other service leaders.  The USFJ joint staff administers unilateral and bilateral defense issues.  USFJ focuses on war planning, the conduct of joint/bilateral exercises and studies, administering the Status of Forces Agreement, improving combat readiness, and enhancing the quality of life of military and DoD civilian personnel and their family members.

Bostick concluded his trip to Japan by addressing a room packed with district personnel during a town hall meeting.

“We’re here to see the great work that is ongoing here,” Bostick said.  “First, I want to thank you for your service and all the great work, lots of construction.  It’s done by people, by those in the military and many civilians who have the support of family members and contractors across Japan.” 

“The Corps has a lot of responsibility across the United States and throughout the world,” Bostick said.  “We have engineers involved in a hundred different countries and physically located in 34 different locations.  The Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of the Army often talk about the Corps and they’re excited about what the Corps does.  The chief knows we do a lot of things for him in a lot of different countries.  The Corps is everywhere.”

“But despite us being everywhere, the chief has made it very clear, and the president has made it very clear, that the Pacific is very important to our future,” Bostick said.  “The work in the Pacific is important and it will continue to be important.  What you’re doing requires the leaders to come out and ensure we are providing the resources and the support you need.  It’s about people, all about people.  The Army is about people.  The Corps is about people.  It’s also about teamwork -- building great teams that can operate despite differences in language, cultures, environments and resources.  They can operate great together to solve very, very challenging problems.  You do that each and every day.  And Japan District does that very well.”