Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of the Air Force Space Command.

Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of the Air Force Space Command. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The four-star leader of Air Force Space Command came to Yokota on Wednesday as part of his four-stop Pacific tour.

Gen. Lance Lord linked up with Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the 5th Air Force, and conducted a brief media interview. Later, in Tokyo, the two leaders were scheduled to meet with Gen. Tadashi Yoshida, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff. A JASDF spokesman said they also sat down with Gen. Hajime Massaki, chairman of the joint staff council.

U.S. military officials at Yokota declined to comment on the specific reasons for Lord’s visit to the theater. It’s also unknown if the trip has any correlation to force-realignment recommendations announced last October concerning a joint anti-ballistic missile defense program in Japan.

“We support all our commands around the world,” Lord said. “The No. 1 thing we wanted to do is reinforce how important space is to all our missions. … That relationship was never more important than it is today.

“We want to make sure we’re connected.”

The general arrived at Yokota from Osan Air Base, South Korea, where he met with officials from U.S. Forces Korea’s Air Component Command. Following the Japan leg of his tour, he’s slated to hit Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, before briefing Gen. Paul Hester, the Pacific Air Forces commander, at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Air Force Space Command operates out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Lord, who became commander of the 39,700-member organization in April 2002, last visited Pacific bases about three years ago.

According to his biography, Lord is responsible for the acquisition, development and operation of the Air Force’s space and missile systems. He oversees a global network of satellite command and control, communications, missile warning, intelligence and launch facilities, which stand as the backbone of America’s intercontinental ballistic missile force.

“They’re the things that make our combat forces more effective,” he said. “If you’re not in space, you’re not in the race. That’s why we’re here. There are satellites constantly flying overhead that you never see. It’s real easy to take space for granted, but it affects all aspects of our daily lives.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.

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