Italy-based Air Force unit will rotate into Kunsan
Stars and Stripes June 16, 2007
SEOUL — An Italy-based U.S. Air Force unit will arrive at Kunsan Air Base early next week for a four-month deployment.
The 300 airmen and 18 aircraft of the 555th Fighter Squadron, based at Aviano Air Base, are coming as part of a routine Aerospace Expeditionary Force rotation, Kunsan spokeswoman Capt. Tiffany Payette said.
She said it’s the first time a unit from Europe has been sent to the Pacific region as part of the rotation.
Those rotations help the Air Force evaluate the readiness of its airmen and act as a deterrent in the region, she said.
The unit’s arrival “absolutely” does not indicate an increased security threat in South Korea, she said.
“It’s just kind of the luck of the draw” that they’re coming to Kunsan, Payette said. “They could have been tasked to go to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Additional Air Force units are regularly deployed to U.S. bases in the Pacific, with the last unit deployed to South Korea coming from New Mexico, she said. Four-month deployments are standard for Air Force units, even those going to Iraq or Afghanistan, she said.
The 555th airmen will go through the same in-processing as other units on AEF rotations, including briefings on the weather, yellow sand and how to adjust to the time change.
The 555th was part of the 8th Fighter Wing in the late 1960s when the unit was stationed in Thailand, Payette said.