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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 13th Air Force stood up a detachment in Japan this week, a move meant to bolster communications, training and operations between air operations in Hawaii and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, according to U.S. Air Force officials.

The new unit — called Detachment 1 of the 13th Air Force — will pull 50 personnel from 5th Air Force, located at Yokota Air Base, and assign them to the 13th Air Force, which is headquartered in Hawaii.

While the change involves a new name rather than an addition of airmen or weaponry, U.S. officials said on Friday that Detachment 1 marks an increased effort to speed planning and reaction to protect Japan in case of a humanitarian or wartime crisis.

The move also will strengthen both countries’ abilities in ballistic missile defense, according to Lt. Gen. Loyd S. “Chip” Utterback, commander of 13th Air Force, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii,.

A “ballistic missile threat is emerging in this region,” Utterback said Friday morning during a press conference at Yokota. “This will enable us to take a theaterwide perspective.”

Utterback said the creation of Detachment 1 has been in the works for years, well before North Korea’s nuclear test last October. The test “did not drive this, but certainly it created a sense of urgency to bring forward these capabilities,” he said.

On a day-to-day basis, Detachment 1 will work with Air Force officials at Yokota, headquarters in Hawaii and its Japanese counterparts to link technologies, intelligence and capabilities throughout the region.

A separate Detachment 1 of the 13th Air Force stationed at Diego Garcia stood down last year.


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