Misawa troops heading off to war games — on buses
Stars and Stripes June 29, 2003
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — When the Air Force stages one of its periodic base-wide exercises here Monday, several changes will be introduced.
Troops will go off to the simulated war not in their cars, but aboard the base’s bus system.
“And they will be indoctrinated through a concept called the ‘apple orchard,’” said Senior Master Sgt. Glenn Snyder of the 35th Fighter Wing’s inspections office.
“It’s more of a concept rather than an actual location,” Snyder said of the program aimed at improving the way troops receive vital information.
Previous exercises showed some troops were not receiving timely information they needed to know before showing up at exercise processing centers, Snyder said.
“There is certain classified information that we can’t pass along on the telephone, and people have to have the right identification codes if they are challenged,” Snyder said. “If they don’t, they get jacked up by security forces.”
The apple orchard concept will be established at two base processing centers — the Richard Bong theater and at “Rocky’s Roost,” an assembly area in the shadow of the U.S. Army Field Station.
At the beginning of the exercise, troops will use the base bus system and report to the briefing center nearest their duty section. Troops living in dormitories close to a processing center can walk. Buses run every 15 minutes and schedules have been distributed to units.
By utilizing the mass transit system, some participants may find their 12-hour work shifts somewhat extended.
“Using the buses may cause a minor extension of the duty day because of the time element involved,” Snyder said.
Only those with approved waivers from their first sergeants can drive their own vehicles during the exercise, Snyder said. Civilians and other branches of services at the base not taking part in the exercise are not affected.
“Those granted waivers might include airmen who have to get their children to the child development center, or to a child care provider in base housing,” he said.
This aspect of “orchard” is expected to reduce parking congestion seen during previous exercises.
“Cars would park on the grass, in ditches and along roadways,” he said. “It became a problem.”
Troops don’t become exercise players until they’re processed through a center, a 20-minute procedure.
“They have 10 minutes to don the required protective gear, then they are given an overview of the status of the exercise. The moment they walk out of the center, they’re considered an active player and must respond accordingly to simulated attacks,” he said.
Snyder was an exercise evaluator at Air Combat Command bases in the United States and said the orchard concept worked well there.
“We expect some growing pains,” he said. “We’ve tried to think of every eventuality, but I’m sure something will come up.”