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Air Defense Command commences operations at Yokota AB

by 2nd Lt. Christopher W. Love
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/29/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- A crowd of senior-ranking U.S. and Japanese military leaders gathered here March 26 to celebrate the beginning of Air Defense Command operations at Yokota Air Base.

The Air Defense Command headquarters, which conducts command and control operations to defend Japanese airspace, was relocated from Fuchu Air Base, Japan, as part of the 2002 Defense Policy Review Initiative, a bilateral process to enhance the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance and address force realignments in the Pacific.

"This occasion ... presents significant opportunities for leaders at every level to cooperate more closely and make better command and control decisions that will affect the entire country of Japan," said the Lt. Gen. Burton Field, the U.S. Forces Japan commander.

The relocation places key decision makers from both nations' air components across the street from one another to improve interoperability on issues ranging from defense planning to daily operations, and a broad range of contingencies in between.

"These headquarters buildings, standing side by side, are a tangible result of our efforts to strengthen defense cooperation between our two countries," said Field. "They are a visible symbol that reflects the nature of our alliance as we work together to provide for the common defense of Japan."

To facilitate the relocation, the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force developed a bilateral Base Master Plan for Yokota AB. The plan involves 31 projects, including the construction of 10 JASDF and 13 U.S. facilities, costing approximately $480 million.

"Years of planning, construction, meetings and agreements went into making today possible," said Col. Bill Knight, the 374th Airlift Wing commander. "This relocation was no small effort, nor is it any small accomplishment."

Though U.S. service members have lived on and around Yokota for 67 years, the Air Defense Command relocation brings them into closer contact with their military counterparts.

For the relocation to be successful, it will require more than just a closer proximity between the two nations' military forces, said JASDF Col. Akio Hiyoshi, the Air Defense Operations Group commander. It will depend on mutual respect and the establishment of a trusting relationship, he said.

Yokota AB's commander made a similar point.

"As U.S. Airmen abroad, we take our mission seriously, along with the responsibility to be good neighbors and good ambassadors," Knight said. "As we enter this new era in Yokota's history, we will further enhance one of the strongest alliances and friendships the world has ever known."

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