YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — How well the 374th Airlift Wing can perform its wartime mission will be put to the test — and under the microscope — by Pacific Air Forces next week in a long-awaited Operational Readiness Inspection.

It’s officially scheduled to begin Sunday and last until March 21. But PACAF’s inspector general team was expected at Yokota on Friday so the assessment could start immediately.

“The wing is fully ready to begin any portion of the inspection after the team steps off the aircraft,” said Col. William Davidson, the 374th Airlift Wing’s inspector general.

Wing officials certainly have highlighted the review on their calendar, posting countdowns in the base newspaper and on the marquee along Airlift Avenue, Yokota’s main thoroughfare. The ORI originally was scheduled for February 2005 but was delayed due to the base’s role in tsunami-relief efforts across South Asia.

The exercise won’t cause a major disruption to daily life at Yokota, but residents might see some effect on base functions, Davidson said. Staffing shortages may lead agencies such as legal, finance and personnel to offer reduced services. However, people requiring immediate assistance will get help, he added.

The south overrun on Yokota’s runway — one of two passages linking the base’s main part and east side — will be closed to regular traffic during the inspection’s latter half. Officials want to minimize distractions for participants.

Also in the second phase, the Kanto Express base shuttle will be available to duty personnel only. All major facilities are remaining open but temporary road closures may be possible, especially around Davis Avenue, where airmen will conduct daily operations.

“Everyone (should) avoid driving in exercise areas,” Davidson said. “If possible, take an alternate route. … This will help airmen succeed in their duties and prevent inspectors from having to distinguish between player and nonplayer vehicles.”

The wing earned an “excellent” rating for an Initial Response Readiness Inspection in April 2001 and got a “satisfactory” mark in November 2002 after a Combat Employment Readiness Inspection. PACAF has since packaged the two into an ORI.

In two phases, Yokota’s airmen and equipment will be tested on their ability to deploy, receive forces and defend the base against attack while sustaining operations, Davidson said.

“The ORI will be intense, but no more so than any of our previous exercises,” he added. “Airmen can expect to work long hours and be asked to participate in numerous events to test the wing’s readiness.

“We do expect … a thorough review with challenging events but the preparations we’ve made over the past year will prove to them that Yokota is ready to respond.”

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