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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — 18th Wing officials halted the use of ground-burst simulators and smoke canisters Wednesday after smoke inundated Kadena Town Hall.

The incident took place at 8:30 a.m. during operational readiness training on the north side of Kadena Air Base, next to the town of Kadena. Workers inside the building complained of eye irritation.

Col. Max Kirschbaum, 18th Mission Support Group commander, met with Kadena Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi on Kadena Air Base and assured the mayor that the ground-burst simulators and smoke canisters were improperly used too close to the town hall, according to the 18th Wing Public Affairs Office. He assured the mayor such an event would not be repeated.

“The placement of these tools in close proximity to Kadena Town Hall was inconsistent with base procedures, did not meet the intent of the training objectives and was not reflective of earnest wing efforts — such as no-fly days throughout Obon — to be responsive to the genuine noise concerns of the Okinawa community,” the press release stated.

The temporary suspension of the use of the training tools was ordered by Brig. Gen. Jan Marc- Jouas, 18th Wing commander.

While stressing that the smoke was nontoxic, the wing announced it would establish a detailed policy regarding its use before future wing training events. The policy would “ensure that the use of these training tools does not impact on the local community and is consistent with training objectives and safety,” the release stated.

The current operational readiness training ended Wednesday night.

The incident was the second time in a year that Kadena town officials complained of smoke from such exercises. In December a Japanese high school near the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area suspended classes after smoke wafted in from the base during an exercise.


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