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Air Force Featured Stories

Yokota AB hosts Pacific Unity 2019

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the dust settled and the concrete solidified, where once was a crater now stands a repaired airfield ready for use. With Pacific Unity 2019 coming to a close, civil engineer squadrons from throughout the Pacific will have the knowledge and tools needed to ensure their respective airfields can get up and running after an attack, putting planes in the sky and keep the mission ongoing.

The four-day bilateral training event spanning from Aug. 20-23 brought together Airmen from throughout the Pacific to team up with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force service members to learn the advanced Rapid Airfield Damage Repair skills necessary to respond in war-time contingency operations.

“Pacific Unity is a Pacific Air Force’s initiative to bring together civil engineer squadrons from the Republic of Korea and Japan to work alongside our partner nation of Japan’s Kokou Jietai (JASDF) engineers to improve interoperability when it comes to airfield repair,” said Master Sgt. Brent Fallon, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron base engineer emergency force manager. “To do just that, we put together mixed teams from the 374th CES out of Yokota Air Base, local JASDF from Yokota and Iruma AB, Japan, 51st CES, Osan AB, and 8th CES, Kunsan AB, to learn the process as one, allowing them to be better prepared to work with individuals from different installations, or even nations, to respond to a damaged airfield in the most efficient manner possible.

“To teach the teams every facet of the RADR process from start to finish, we brought in the best subject matter experts to do the job, the Silver Flag cadre from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam,” he continued. “Under the guidance of the 554th RHS, the units attending were able to develop skills in fiber-reinforced polymer mat placement, warehouse operations, crater repair along with the command and control functions that allow us to get airfields operational within a few short hours after the damage occurred.”

With the first two days of the event focused on learning the process and building the team skills necessary to complete the task, the final day allowed the teams to show their progress, capping off their week by repairing multiple craters with little to no cadre assistance.

“Today, we came together as a team to completely repair our simulated airfield damage without much issue,” said JASDF Capt. Tomofumi Okubo, JASDF Operations Support Wing planning division, logistics section civil engineer chief. “From the planning and logistics portion of preparing to the actual execution of the repair, our final product really showed what we are capable of when we work with each other.”

“It’s moments like this that really highlight the strength of the partnership between Japan and the United States,” Okubo said. “It gives us the comfort of knowing the best practices for RADR, or should the need ever arise, we can seamlessly integrate crews to assist each other in airfield repair because that’s what allies do.”

It is that alliance that allowed the crews to bond with one another on multiple levels to get the job done.

“The language barrier was a small issue, but we had so many more positives working for us that the barrier didn’t really hinder us,” said Senior Airman Jason Brown, 374th CES GeoBase technician. “We may not have all shared the same language, but we were all engineers and we spoke that language effortlessly. When we all have that shared responsibility to get the job done, it makes it so much easier to come together and rely on one another.

“While we all hope we never need to put the skills we developed here today to use,” Brown said. “I know I can trust any of the engineers, no matter where they came from, that I worked with today. Pacific Unity gave us the confidence to know we are ready to answer that call should it ever come and, more importantly, that we are not alone in being prepared for that call.”