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Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific [COMFAIRWESTPAC]

Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific [COMFAIRWESTPAC] provides support to Naval Air Force ships and squadrons deployed in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific, located at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan, is COMNAVAIRPAC's agent in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. COMFAIRWESTPAC (CFWP) satisfies the WESTPAC aviation logistics needs of Forward Deployed Forces by providing supply support, material support and airlift coordination services. COMFAIRWESTPAC is responsible for the scheduling of all Navy airlift support in the Western Pacific, utilizing the following aircraft: C-9, C-130, C-20, and C-12 to fly over sixteen thousand passengers and three million pounds of cargo annually.

COMFAIRWESTPAC is made up of 17 officers, 37 enlisted and 10 civilian personnel. The COMFAIRWESTPAC staff is also augmented by group of Naval Reservists (COMFAIRWESTPAC-0170) based out of NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas.

Commander Fleet Air Western Pacific (CFWP) is a unique blend of Navy and Marine Corps personnel specializing in aviation logistics, aviation maintenance, airlift, aviation contingency planning and administration/manpower. Each of these specialties make up a different department in CFWP and perform valuable functions in the vast expanse of the Western Pacific Theater.

Because of the considerable time difference from the Continental United States (CONUS) and the intense amount of operational activity in the Pacific theater, the Commander of the Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet (CNAP) has difficulty conducting many logistics oversight operations from its headquarters in California. Many important questions and concerns need to be answered in the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) after working hours on the west coast. CFWP performs many of these oversight operations as CNAP's agent in WESTPAC; their "realtime" eyes and ears in the theater so to speak. In addition, CFWP performs functions for the Commander of the Pacific Seventh Fleet.

Commander Fleet Air, Japan (ComFairJap) was commissioned on August 9th, 1950. Early in 1951, NAS Atsugi (a former Japanese naval air training base) had just been refurbished by the U.S. and the decision was made to move the staff from Tokyo to its new and current home at Atsugi. The early efforts of ComFairJap were directed to the successful Korean operation. Staff members faced the task of ensuring front line combat squadrons were properly supplied with critical aircraft parts, ordnance and spare aircraft in the face of losses.

In 1964, ComFairJap and Commander Fleet Air South West Pacific were disestablished and their areas of responsibility combined. It was then that the staff at ComFairJap was renamed Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific (COMFAIRWESTPAC). COMFAIRWESTPAC assumed all fleet air functions in the Western Pacific and provide support for aviation units of 7th Fleet. Permanent detachments were set up at NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines, as well as in South Vietnam. These detachments allowed for greater flexibility and increased efficiency in supplying units with everything from navigation maps to aircraft engines.

By the middle of the 1960s, COMFAIRWESTPAC was supporting an average of five attack carriers, two Anti-Submarine Warfare carriers and 1400 Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

The presence of Navy and Marine Corps aviation units and COMFAIRWESTPAC taskings grew substantially as the U.S. became heavily entrenched in the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this period, COMFAIRWESTPAC's area of responsibility grew to include accountability for assets in a zone of more than 30 million square miles. The 7th Fleet was becoming the workhorse of the U.S. Navy, and COMFAIRWESTPAC supported the effort. From the logistical and material coordination provided to the carriers Coral Sea and Hancock during Operation Rolling Thunder (1965), to support provided to the units involved in Operations Linebacker I/II (1971-1972), COMFAIRWESTPAC performed while facing of adversity.

The post Vietnam 1970s and 1980s saw the 7th Fleet take on the role as peacekeeper in the Western Pacific as well as Southeast and Southwest Asia. COMFAIRWESTPAC was tasked in supporting this role as numerous hot spots emerged requiring short-lived combat operations. World order was beginning to change and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps was now required to battle widespread acts of terrorism on a smaller scale. The Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and continued involvement in Southeast Asia stretched COMFAIRWESTPAC and the Seventh Fleet to develop new methods of supporting this vast arena.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a large number of aircraft introduced to the Navy and Marine Corp team, including the F-14 Tomcat, SH-60B Seahawk, S-3A Viking, AV-8B Harrier and the F/A-18 Hornet. The COMFAIRWESTPAC team ensured these aircraft were maintained, and supply channels were established for these and all aircraft in theater at the time.

COMFAIRWESTPAC also became more involved with the training and pre-deployment work ups of assigned units. Large training exercises like PACEX-89, the largest peacetime exercise in the Pacific since WW II, were coordinated by COMFAIRWESTPAC to ensure high levels of training and readiness. These exercises proved invaluable to units of the 7th Fleet when on January 17, 1991, President George Bush initiated the offensive Operation Desert Storm over the skies of Iraq. COMFAIRWESTPAC ensured lines of communication and supplies, as well as the movement of key personnel, were accomplished with precision.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:55:41 ZULU