374th's vice commander tells mayors he's working to limit noise at Yokota
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Col. Douglas Kreulen, the 374th Airlift Wing’s vice commander, tackled noise complaints, airman misconduct and security concerns over foreign nationals during his quarterly Vice Mayors Council with local Japanese government representatives.
Tuesday’s meeting came a week after a liaison group consisting of Mizuho Town, Fussa, Hamura, Musashimurayama, Akishima, Tachikawa and Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials filed a grievance letter over aircraft noise at Yokota.
Kreulen apologized for an Oct. 2 incident in which a Yokota airman was arrested after allegedly entering the house of an elderly Japanese couple in downtown Tokyo. The homeowners decided not to press charges, and the case has been referred to Air Force authorities. He said the suspect faces a severe reprimand, which may include a dishonorable discharge.
After the meeting, Capt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman, said he could not provide additional details about the incident.
Much of Tuesday’s gathering was devoted to aircraft noise and breaches of the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. “quiet hours” that have occurred in the last three months. From July 13 to Oct. 7, Kreulen said, 22 mission-critical flights were allowed to land at Yokota within those hours.
“Most were generated by airplanes coming from the United States that had to go around bad weather or other strong-wind conditions,” he said. “Many times, they arrive a few hours late. We try to prevent that as much as possible.”
Between July and September, Yokota received 164 complaints about aircraft noise. Kreulen said the vast majority stemmed from “one or two” unusual circumstances often involving transient air traffic.
Kreulen told Japanese officials that Col. Donald Kimminau, 374th Operations Group deputy commander, is laying out guidelines for aircraft that pass through Yokota and said the base does not have a new mission requiring larger numbers of transient planes.
“Many stop here for refueling,” Kreulen said, “but they can’t do practice approaches. That creates too much noise here in the community. They’re allowed only one approach.”
Kreulen said he’d like to reduce monthly complaints about aircraft noise to 10-20.
“We’ll continue to work on bringing our numbers down even lower. Hopefully someday, we’ll get it down very close to zero,” he said.
Kreulen said Pacific Air Forces officials recently granted Yokota’s request to eliminate use of the base siren and public-address system during “quiet hours.” However, he warned that evaluators would want to review the installation’s Ground Burst Simulator and see some night flying during the Operational Readiness Inspection in March so “we can prove we can do our wartime mission.”
The GBS is employed during exercises to replicate an explosion at Yokota, according to Comer. It’s similar to the sound of a small bomb or mortar. Kreulen said he’d set up a demonstration for Japanese officials at the next vice mayors meeting.
A Tokyo Metropolitan Government official asked if Japanese motorists could be allowed on base during large-scale events such as the friendship festival each August. Kreulen said the issue could be examined but cited traffic congestion and security concerns.
Each month, military police prevent about 10 nationals from countries “not on friendly terms with the United States” from entering Yokota, he added.