Exercises leave 374th Airlift optimistic about inspections
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Days removed from a second full-scale exercise in a little over a month, Col. Scott Goodwin, the 374th Airlift Wing commander has no doubt that the “374th is fully prepared to execute [its] mission of providing world-class, airlift support throughout the Pacific.”
Base leaders said they’re confident of a successful outcome heading into next month’s Operational Readiness Inspection by Pacific Air Forces.
“I’ve seen vast improvements in our deployment and reception processes, as well as our ability to defend the base,” Goodwin said. “We will be ready to show off our stuff when the PACAF team comes.”
More than 3,000 airmen took part in the weeklong drill, essentially a review of Yokota’s wartime mission.
Col. Tom Davidson, the wing’s inspector general, said there were no major problems or disruptions during the session, which ended last Friday.
“As you would expect of operations during a contingency or combat scenario, we found areas we can improve, but nothing was a showstopper,” he said. “All of the training we’ve done is really paying big dividends.
The wing IG team scripted exercise simulations. Davidson said they included deployment, noncombatant evacuation, a “terrorist attack” carried out simultaneously with a mock aircraft hijacking, enemy mortar and sniper strikes, and mass-casualty response. Airmen also dealt with post-attack “fires,” damage assessments, building and runway repairs, and “injuries” to personnel.
“This exercise was no more difficult than previous ones,” Davidson said. “However, to make sure everyone had a chance to learn something new, we kept it challenging by adding a few new events, or running more events at the same time.”
Senior Airman Chad Bowen of the 374th Maintenance Squadron, who’s been at Yokota for two years, said he definitely noticed a few fresh wrinkles during the drills.
“It had a good tempo to it,” he said. “Sometimes, we’d be sitting around waiting for stuff to happen. Then they’d hit us hard. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it made people realize this is war. This is what we’d actually have to do if anything was to start up in Korea or anywhere else.”
Exercise-evaluation team members provided vital assistance, added Bowen, who also praised information flow up and down the chain of command.
“It was a lot more organized and smoother this time,” he said. “People knew what was going on and had the right information. … EET members were helpful and understanding. Explanations were always given. They’d take time and walk us through it. They’d tell us to slow it down, pay attention to details.
While operations again were conducted around the clock, the Yokota Defense Facilities Administration Office did not register any noise complaints from local Japanese residents, according to Capt. David Westover, a wing spokesman.
The PACAF inspection, normally held once every three years, is set for March 12-21.