1,400 from Pacific Air Forces preparing to deploy
August 4, 2005
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — About 1,400 airmen from Pacific Air Forces are preparing to deploy in September, mostly to support the global war on terrorism.
They’re part of the Air Force’s upcoming 120-day, September-January Aerospace Expeditionary Force rotation cycle.
Misawa Air Base in northern Japan and Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, will be hit hardest. Misawa is to send some 300 airmen and Elmendorf, 600.
Pacific bases tapped for about 100 personnel each are Andersen Air Force, Guam; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; and Yokota Air Base, Japan, according to Capt. Eileen Kirkland, PACAF AEF policy and guidance expert.
Military officials, citing security, would not specify when personnel would deploy from the theater, saying only that they’re to depart throughout the next few months. Base spokesmen in Japan said only that their airmen were headed to Southwest Asia — but at least one official said Iraq was included. Kadena Air Base also is sending a team to Iceland.
Most Pacific bases have been tasked to support the upcoming phase, but Kirkland, in a written response to Stars and Stripes, said AEF requirements from the theater are not rising.
“PACAF bases have supplied between 1,200 and 1,400 airmen each AEF rotation since the summer of 2003,” when major air combat operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom ended, she said. “During the peak of OIF operations (spring 2003), more than 2,500 PACAF personnel were deployed.”
Each base is tapped twice per 20-month AEF cycle as the primary source for expeditionary combat support airmen, Kirkland said. Most bases, however, deploy some personnel during every rotation. Some low-density, high-demand forces — such as special-operations forces and air mobility operations — and stressed career fields may deploy more often or for longer periods, she said.
Kadena, for example, has “deployers going out in all cycles,” according to a written statement from public affairs officials. Though most 18th Wing squadrons will support the upcoming AEF, security forces will send the most airmen, they said.
At Yokota, officials said personnel from various squadrons and agencies would deploy, including airlift, security forces, civil engineer, communications, logistics readiness, operations support and aircraft maintenance.
Citing security reasons, Misawa officials declined to specify which units would deploy, saying “it will be a cross-section … from throughout base.” Security forces, civil engineer and services tend to be tapped most heavily “for any major AEF deployment,” they stated.
About 120 Pacific airmen will deploy during the next AEF to support Army missions, including convoy escort, detainee facility security and civil engineer jobs such as building water-purification plants, according to Kirkland.
Kadena is sending a small group of vehicle operators and security forces personnel to Camp Bullis and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., for training designed to prepare for convoy escort duty, officials said.