MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — About 250 airmen from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., will call Misawa home for the next four months.

Most of the incoming members of the 27th Fighter Wing and about 14 of the wing’s F-16 fighter jets already are on station, with a few more personnel still to arrive.

Misawa base officials said the deployment was planned months in advance and is not tied to a specific threat.

“This deployment is a prudent measure to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the region,” said base spokesman 1st Lt. James Lage. “This is an example of the flexibility that U.S. forces have to meet ongoing commitments throughout the Asia Pacific region,” he added. “Other examples include the previous announcements of bombers deployed to Guam.”

The Cannon influx comes when Misawa is minus some personnel and planes: About 15 of the 35th Fighter Wing’s F-16s are receiving extensive upgrades at Hill Air Force Base depot in Utah, the last batch of Misawa fighters to go through the Common Configuration Implementation Program. Those jets are due back in May.

The base also is gearing up to send airmen to Southwest Asia in support of the global war on terrorism. The deployment is part of a scheduled Air Force Aerospace Expeditionary Force rotation cycle. Numbers deploying and their departure dates were not available Tuesday.

Most of the Cannon airmen deploying to Misawa are fighter pilots and maintainers. Base officials said the visiting air crews will fly normal training sorties during their deployment.

“They’re pretty much going to be flying them and fixing them,” 1st Lt. Lee Holfert, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron reception control officer, said of the planes.

The majority of the Cannon contingent arrived Jan. 3 and is to stay until May. It’s the largest bed-down of incoming forces at Misawa in recent memory, say airmen with 35th LRS, which was in charge of planning the reception and integration of the New Mexico servicemembers into the base community. Numerous details had to be worked out for the airmen’s Misawa stay, including lodging, meals, transportation and access to Internet and laundry services.

“It’s gone extremely well,” said Lt. Col. Craig Greenwood, 35th LRS commander. “Most of the folks here want to make it good for the folks coming in. They take it to heart when you say you want to give them the best quality of life” during their time here because “you never know when you’ll have to go somewhere where they’ll be setting up support for you.”

For 35th LRS airmen and augmentees from other units, receiving and processing the visiting servicemembers and 150 tons of cargo upon their arrival was the chance to employ skills and knowledge previously used only in exercises. “When we practice, we don’t have this many people,” Holfert said.

Personnel files were made for the arriving airmen containing medical records, orders and emergency contact information, said Master Sgt. Ronell Knox, 35th LRS readiness flight superintendent. The visiting servicemembers also attended an orientation in which they were briefed on everything from driving on the left side of the road to which Misawa city establishments are off-limits to base personnel.

During the initial orientation, Knox said, the vice wing commander, Col. Don Weckhorst, “told them they would be treated as part of the wing and that any activities the wing gets involved in, they’ll be a part of.”

Holfert said, “We’re going to pretty much treat them as our own while they’re here.”

During their stay the Cannon airmen will eat at Grissom Dining Facility. For transportation, the base is providing them a combination of shuttle service and government and rental vehicles.

The 35th Communications Squadron ensured the Cannon airmen can get Internet service in their rooms and the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron erected temporary laundry facilities behind the Misawa Red Cross building, officials said.

Greenwood said the 35th Services Squadron has a full calendar of activities planned for the airmen.

“We attempt to try and quickly integrate the unit into the wing,” he said. “Whether or not they’re here or in the desert, they’re away from home. Wing leadership made it clear up front that they want to give them the highest quality of life while they’re here.”

Misawa lodging at a premium, so plan ahead

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — About 250 airmen from Cannon Air Base, N.M., deployed here for the next four months, are rooming at the Misawa Inn and Misawa Navy Lodge, and base officials say lodging for other patrons is limited as a result.

In a written statement, Lt. Col. Kari Mostert, 35th Services Squadron commander, said that just more than 50 percent of the rooms at the Misawa Inn have been assigned to the Cannon airmen, while Misawa Navy Lodge is contributing 40 rooms to the bed-down.

Navy lodging facilities at Misawa offer more than 400 rooms for transient guests, divided between officer and enlisted quarters.

Mostert said a message was sent Defense Department-wide to inform potential customers that lodging at Misawa will be extremely limited for the next several months and that those on temporary duty should plan to lodge at off-base hotels.

Mostert said the base’s temporary lodging facilities (TLFs), including those reserved for pet owners, are not being used to house the Cannon servicemembers and should be able to provide enough rooms on most dates for families making a permanent change of station either into or out of Misawa.

“We highly recommend all potential TLF customers make reservations as soon as they have orders and have established good dates for their lodging needs,” Mostert wrote.

— Stars and Stripes

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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