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Joint initiative transforms air defense in Asia

by Maj. Jason Medina
U.S. Forces Japan Public Affairs

5/15/2007 - YOKOTA Air Base, Japan (AFPN) -- Air Force and the Japanese Self Defense Force leaders paved the road to increased interoperability with the stroke of a pen at a ceremony here May 15.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Reheiser, 5th Air Force vice commander and 13th Air Force deputy commander, and JASDF Maj. Gen. Haruhiko Kataoka, director of the Defense Planning and Policy department at Japan's Air Staff Office, codified a Memorandum of Understanding for the bilateral base master plan to implement the relocation of Japan's Air Defense Command headquarters to Yokota.

The MOU and bilateral base master plan serve as a roadmap for the initiative, which was directed by the October 2005 Security Consultative Committee's report, "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future." The command, similar in mission to Air Combat Command, is currently based at Fuchu Air Station.

"We've been working on the master plan for about a year," said Col. Kenneth Shelton, 5th Air Force's director of civil engineering, "and though it's subject to adjustments, our vision is that it will ensure a steady implementation of this historic initiative intended to effect a transformational improvement in the coordination between our air and missile defense command and control elements."

Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, and initial operating capability -- a major milestone toward becoming a fully operational headquarters -- is expected by spring 2011.

The first phase of building will be "critical" facilities such as the headquarters, enlisted dorms, an air defense operations group and a mess hall. Colonel Shelton said that planning continues for the two additional building phases -- mission support and sustainment capabilities -- as well as "co-use opportunities" such as utilities, warehouses and various community support facilities.

Located within the new Air Defense Command headquarters building will be a Bilateral Air Operations Coordination Center, similar to Falconer air operations centers located in Southwest Asia, Europe, South Korea, Arizona and Hawaii. The BAOCC will ensure "robust coordination, interoperability and data sharing" between the U.S. and Japanese Air Self Defense Force, General Reheiser said.

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