KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — As the conflict in Iraq rages thousands of miles away, Air Force personnel on Okinawa began an exercise to test their ability to wage war.

Kadena kicked off an Operational Readiness Exercise over the weekend, said base spokesman Masao Doi. The weeklong ORE is part of regularly scheduled training conducted at operational Air Force bases to evaluate air wings’ ability to respond, said Doi.

In phase one, base officials prepare and deploy aircraft, personnel, equipment and support material to Base X, a fictitious forward area.

In phase two, Kadena transforms into Base X, which tests the base’s ability to repair runways, suppress fires and protect personnel and equipment. Also to be tested: The air wing’s ability to do mid-air refueling and combat search and rescue, and conduct air battle management and command and control.

Kadena conducted a similar exercise in January to prepare for a Pacific Air Forces Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for September. Among other things, the exercise tested the base’s ability to survive and operate after being attacked with chemical and biological weapons.

During an ORE, wing personnel typically simulate going into heightened force protection levels. The military’s four FPCON levels — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta — each have increasingly restrictive security precautions that govern the movement of people, visitor identification, vehicle checks and parking next to facilities and buildings. Delta, the most restrictive, is normally declared when a terrorist attack has occurred or an imminent attack is expected.

Last week, many members of Okinawa’s military community said they were flocking to base stores to stock up on food and water because they believed bases on the island would go into Charlie or Delta force protection levels at the war’s outset.

“Quit passing unfounded rumors and stick to the facts,” said Doi, noting that all base services and facilities on Kadena have remained open, and all day-to-day activities continue unaffected by the war.

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