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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 374th Airlift Wing is staging another Operational Readiness Exercise, its fourth of the year.

The weeklong drill, to hit high gear today and end Friday, is a final tuneup before the holidays as the base sharpens its wartime mission ahead of a crucial inspection by Pacific Air Forces in March. More than 3,000 airmen will participate.

The training is expected to be a full-scale, high-tempo affair. Base officials routinely alert Japanese authorities about scheduled exercises and conduct most operations during daytime hours to reduce the effect of noise in surrounding communities. For Yokota residents, unit movements and drill instructions are announced over the basewide public-address system and posted on the Commander’s Access Channel.

The south overrun on Yokota’s runway will be shut down to all traffic except emergency vehicles used in the exercise. In addition, the Kanto Express base shuttle will become the Warrior Express, available only to exercise participants.

Temporary road closures also might be possible throughout the week. All major base facilities, however, will remain open.

As for participants, “there are many different scenarios they’ll have to respond to,” said Capt. Warren Comer, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman. “They might be slightly different than what they’ve seen in the past, but be assured it’s going to be a tough exercise.

“They’ll have to act rather than train. … In training, we show our personnel how to do things correctly. They can stop and ask questions. Exercises are an opportunity for our airmen to perform while an exercise-evaluation team member reviews what they do.”

The objective of any readiness drill is to make sure wing members know how to respond during contingencies, which can include war, attacks on the base, disaster-relief efforts or deployments around the Pacific, he said.

The wing’s inspector general team generates exercise scenarios. Comer said he could not identify the specific missions that might be simulated this week.

“I can’t go into the basics of that … but airmen can expect a pretty rigorous exercise, to include anything from having to respond to a chemical attack to basic self-aid and buddy care.”

Past sessions also have featured noncombatant-evacuation operations and the airlift of personnel and cargo under difficult conditions. The ability to survive and operate after a nuclear, biological or chemical attack has been another key theme, having airmen move around the base in full mission-oriented protective posture gear, or MOPP.

In most cases, an overall grade is handed out by the base’s Inspector General office about two weeks after an exercise. The grade is based on a standard five-tier evaluation system used by the Air Force, which delivers marks for outstanding, excellent, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory efforts. Superior individual performers also are identified.

The Operational Readiness Inspection by Pacific Air Forces, normally held once every three years, is set for March 12-21. The wing has one more drill scheduled in January.


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