374th Airlift Wing troops preparing for Southwest Asia deployment
December 12, 2004
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — About 300 troops from the 374th Airlift Wing will deploy throughout Southwest Asia next month in support of the global war on terrorism.
Yokota officials declined to specify when, saying only that they’d be sent at different stages in January. Personnel from several squadrons and agencies are among them, including civil engineer, communications, mission support, wing staff, medical, logistic readiness, maintenance, aircraft maintenance, operational support, air postal, comptroller, weather, security forces, contracting and services.
It’s part of a scheduled Air Force Aerospace Expeditionary Force rotation cycle. Yokota is in the first and second phases of the cycle, said 1st Lt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman, with the upcoming round representing AEF 3 and 4. This summer, due to greater demands on the Air Force since Sept. 11, 2001, deployment lengths for most airmen were increased from 90 days to 120 in a policy change issued by Gen. John P. Jumper, the service’s chief of staff.
The AEF cycle also moved from 15 months to 20 months — meaning airmen will be eligible to deploy for four months and then have a 16-month training cycle. Servicemembers are expected to rotate once during the cycle, although some airmen in stressed specialties, such as security forces and pararescue, may face longer stints.
Each deployment is significant and unique, said Col. Mark Schissler, the 374th Airlift Wing commander, who praised the contributions of Yokota airmen in the war on terror.
“Every American that puts their life in danger for the cause of freedom is a true hero in my book,” he said. “I am surrounded by people like that every day. The world is becoming a safer place because of their willingness to serve, even in harm’s way.
“The war on terror is one that we have to finish in our generation; we cannot and will not pass this burden on to our children and grandchildren. They deserve to inherit a world free of terror and fear, where peace can grow and people can pursue their dreams.”