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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2023

Duty in Japan: NR CNFJ/CNRJ Sailors Train to Enhance Cultural Mission Readiness

By Cmdr. Alison Maruca, NR CNFJ Headquarters Public Affairs

Cmdr. Jamal Smyth is no stranger to traveling overseas in support of the Navy mission. Having mobilized and performed annual training (AT) missions in the Middle East, he is well-versed in the additional admin, logistical, and training requirements required to get a team of Navy Reserve Sailors ready to execute orders in a foreign country. However, when he arrived in Japan this past August as the exercise lead for Citadel Pacific 23, it was his first time in the region.

“Despite a 20+ year career in the Navy, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel and work in Japan and what an incredible experience it was,” he said.

Cmdr. Smyth, NR Commander, Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) Dallas-Fort Worth Chief of Staff, was part of a team of over 50 Reserve Sailors who recently traveled to Japan for Citadel Pacific (CP) 23. As one of three major exercises or rehearsals the NR CNFJ Enterprise supports annually, NR CNFJ/CNRJ Reserve Sailors use these opportunities to travel to Japan to train for their mobilization billet and gain the cultural knowledge and understanding necessary to achieve mission success in Japan.

The NR Commander Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) Enterprise consists of three units: Headquarters (NRC Minneapolis), and two subordinate units in Fort Worth (NRC Dallas-Fort Worth), and Yokosuka (NRC Guam). NR CNFJ’s sister unit, NR CNRJ headquarters, drills out of NRC Houston.  Totaling over 230 Sailors who live and work across the United States and throughout the Pacific, the NR CNFJ/CNRJ Enterprise works alongside the CNFJ/CNRJ active-duty staff based in Yokosuka, Japan. CNFJ/CNRJ Reserve Sailors typically have one or two opportunities each year to travel to various U.S. Navy installations across Japan to execute their AT orders in support of exercises to enhance their mobilization readiness. However, as Strategic Competition continues to increase contention throughout the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, mobilization readiness is more important than ever before, not only for the CNFJ/CNRJ total force, but for all Reserve Sailors who support missions in the Indo-Pacific.

Charged with the mission to be ready to provide effective warfighting capability to the CNFJ/CNRJ total force throughout the Japan area of responsibility, NR CNFJ/CNRJ works closely with the active-duty CNFJ/CNRJ active-duty staff to learn both the operational and cultural aspects critical to their wartime functions.

“Our active-duty counterparts work closely with US Forces Japan, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, and the Government of Japan, in everything they do, which means it is also everything the reserve team must become great at doing,” said NR CNFJ HQ Commanding Officer, Capt. KC Chhipwadia. “Therefore, it’s important that we not only train specifically for our mobilization billet, but also that we understand Japanese culture as well.”

The CNFJ/CNRJ Total Force serves as the Navy commander throughout the Japan area of responsibility, and as such, works closely with Japanese colleagues and counterparts.

“It is paramount that we not only understand how to do our Navy job, but how to do it in Japan and in various operational conditions," said Capt. Chhipwadia.

In alignment with the Chief of the Navy Reserve’s Warfighting Instructions and to properly train and improve individual warfighting readiness, the Navy Reserve CNFJ/CNRJ Enterprise participates in multiple rehearsals such as, Citadel Pacific, Keen Edge, and Keen Sword, to give Sailors the opportunity to actually be part of watch teams, gain meaningful wartime training “sets & reps,” and sit in the seats they would fill during an actual conflict. This gives them the chance to learn their roles, hone skills and gain proficiency in the areas that would be critical wartime functions, while also enjoying the unique opportunity to travel to and experience life in Japan.
“These exercises are both incredibly rewarding personally and professionally,” says Boatswain's Mate First Class Adam Kurth, who has served with NR CNFJ Headquarters for 13 years and traveled to Japan 21 times for Navy Reserve duty. “These exercises give our unit members the opportunity to develop important critical thinking skills and experience which allows every member the chance to be more involved with the U.S. Navy mission in Japan. These opportunities expand our Sailors’ ability to have a successful Navy Reserve career. While we get to come and participate in incredibly important operations that play a key role in regional security and stability, we also have the chance to travel to and experience Japan. Which, if you haven’t ever been to, is an incredibly humble culture!”