Yokota officials delay exercise, schedule training instead
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Yokota officials have pulled the plug on this week’s Operational Readiness Exercise and laid out a training stint in its place.
Beginning Monday, units will engage in a less rigorous Wing Readiness Inspection Week as they focus on strengthening the foundation of the base’s wartime mission.
The 374th Airlift Wing’s senior leaders, citing real-world obligations, rescheduled the year’s fourth ORE for Dec. 11-16 but wanted to maintain preparations ahead of an Operational Readiness Inspection by Pacific Air Forces in March. Capt. David Westover, a wing spokesman, said Friday he could not provide details or elaborate on the commitments.
“We’re supporting Cope North, which is under way,” he said, referring to the bilateral exercise off the coast of Japan designed to improve the nation’s mutual air defense. “Between that and other real-world missions, senior leadership decided to postpone the ORE. But I can’t discuss specific missions.
“We’ll have a Wing Readiness Inspection Week instead. That will provide us an opportunity to train in many of our various wartime-readiness tasks. It’s not as intense as an ORE.”
Rehearsing the ability to survive and operate after a nuclear, biological or chemical attack will be a fundamental theme, with emphasis placed on the teaching aspect, said Capt. Warren Comer, also a wing spokesman.
“It’s not like an exercise where we’re being tested,” Comer said. “You’re being evaluated, but in a format where we can teach without all the other things going on. Basically, it’s a week for unit commanders to sit down with airmen and train them on the things they need to know. … This gives airmen an opportunity to learn in a more relaxed environment and do on-the-spot fixes where needed.”
There won’t be any scenarios to solve, he said, but Yokota airmen can expect a few structured tasks this week, such as practicing the use of full mission-oriented protective posture gear, or MOPP; covering vehicles in plastic; and mobility in a post-chemical attack environment.
While officials have certainly highlighted the PACAF review on next year’s calendar — even posting countdowns in the base newspaper and elsewhere — Comer said that’s not the driving force behind drills conducted by the wing.
“It’s more important for us to know our jobs and do them right in case something really does happen,” he said. “This is preparation for any kind of contingency operation we might have. That’s more important than prepping for an ORE or ORI.”