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New Air Mobility Operations Group activated on Yokota

Col. Mark A. Baker, right, takes command of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Group during the unit's activation ceremony Friday at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The activation of the 515th AMOG represents the final piece in a major reorganization of Air Mobility Command units within the Pacific.

BRYCE S. DUBEE / S&S

By BRYCE S. DUBEE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 29, 2007

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Fighting back tears, Col. Mark A. Baker bid farewell to members of the 730th Air Mobility Squadron as he handed over command of the unit to Lt. Col. Darren D. Sprunk. "Today you will take command of the best squadron in the Air Force," Baker told Sprunk. "Treat them well."

However, Baker won’t have to travel far for his next assignment; minutes later he assumed command of the newly activated 515th Air Mobility Operations Group, which will be based at Yokota.

The activation of the 515th AMOG represents the final piece in a major reorganization of Air Mobility Command units within the Pacific, said Col. Rich McClain, commander of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, based out of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

The realignment aims to improve efficiency of six air mobility squadrons in the Pacific by placing them under the command of two regionally based air mobility operations groups, the 515th at Yokota and the 715th at Hickam, said McClain, who as wing commander will oversee both groups.

In the past, he said, all of the squadrons within the vast area covering two time zones were managed by one group commander at Hickam. Under the reorganization, the Yokota-based 515th AMOG will oversee the 730th AMS at Yokota, the 731st AMS at Osan Air Base, South Korea, and the 733rd AMS at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. The 715th AMOG will oversee squadrons at Hickam, Elemendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The groups also will be in command of several smaller air mobility detachments throughout the area. The new structure provides for a faster response time to meet warfighter needs in theater, McClain said. Changes will be done at no cost and without movement of personnel, said Brig. Gen. Mark Stearns of the 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force.

"Yokota is still going to have the 730th AMS here," he said. "The airmen on the ground won’t see many changes."


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