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PACAF's Air Operations Center participates in Fuji-Yama Sakura

Jan. 29, 2003

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Imagine being able to coordinate an Air Tasking Order between two locations thousands of miles apart. For approximately 60 people who deployed to Yokota Air Base, Japan from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii to set-up the deployable Pacific Air Forces Air Operations Center, it's considered just another day at the office.

Exercise Fuji-Yama Sakura marks the first time the Pacific Air Operations Center has deployed to Headquarters Fifth Air Force at Yokota AB, and the first time "split operations" have been exercised from here.

The PAOC deployed its Combat Operations Division, consisting of members from the 56th Air Operations Squadron, the 56th Air Communications Squadron and the PACAF Air Intel Squadron, while its Combat Plans Division, including Air Tasking Order Production remained at Hickam AFB to perform split operations.

"Deploying to Yokota has been a great opportunity to work with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force as well as integrate the members from the Guard, Reserve and sister services," Col. Gene O'Nale, exercise Air Operations Center director said. "Fifth Air Force has been a great host--everything from the reception, staging, operations, and integration has been smooth."

"We use split operations to rapidly deploy people with fewer aircraft and to reduce the footprint in a forward location," said Lt. Col. Chip Harriman, exercise Air Operation Center deputy director. "It also assists when a location is unable to accommodate a full-up AOC. We are able to retain many of the functionalities without degrading the mission effectiveness."

In addition, Fifth Air Force augmentation along with a U.S. Army Battlefield Detachment and Japan Air and Ground Self Defense Forces will form a Bilateral Air Operations Coordination Center or BAOCC which focuses on the development and refinement of the Japan Self-Defense Force and U.S. Forces' efforts in the areas of bilateral planning, coordination and interoperability.

"Fuji-Yama Sakura is an opportunity to exercise the bilateral decision making process to practice making the correct decision as a combat situation dictates," Harriman said. "It allows us to practice working with our core weapon systems such as TBMCS (Theater Battle Management Core Systems)."

Yama Sakura is an annual bilateral army command post exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Japan and the Ground Staff Office and rotates among the five regional armies of Japan.

Fuji-Yama Sakura has been in the planning stages for several months and bears no connection to any real-world events. (PACAFNS)

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