Little Rock AFB squadrons cross Pacific, train with Yokota AB Airmen

Airmen from Yokota Air Base welcomed four Air Mobility Command C-130J Super Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, as part of a capstone exercise Feb. 8-19.

“Yokota (AB) has a very unique AOR (area of responsibility),” said Capt. John Walitsch, 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J pilot. “By the 61st flying out, we get to enhance our skill set and learn how to fly in different parts of the world where there may be language barriers, different air space and problems we may need to overcome.”

The 19th Airlift Wing Airmen flew thousands of miles to integrate with Pacific Air Forces C-130J’s from Yokota AB, Japan, as part of a larger exercise for the 4/12 deployment initiative, a 12-month process focused on sharpening readiness and preparing for tomorrow’s fight.

With the new 4/12 initiative, AMC squadrons can deploy all their aircraft at once, creating the same downrange impact with a more cohesive training unit at home and less time away from family.

Since 9/11, deployments for AMC squadrons have been four-months long followed by four months at home – sending a few aircraft at a time, resulting in a constant deployment rotation and a consistently fragmented squadron at home, Walitsch said.

The training provided diverse flight-operation opportunities while allowing the 41st Airlift Squadron and 61st AS to operate in the Defense Department’s largest area of responsibility.

To help the 61st AS adapt to a new environment, Yokota AB Airmen worked alongside Little Rock AFB Airmen, furthering their own training and strengthening their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“It really has been a wing effort to receive them,” said Capt. Sean Boyington, 36th AS C-130J pilot and event coordinator. “We are practicing our reception working group here, which encompasses every organization and squadron on base.”

“It allows us to be able to receive incoming aircraft, house them, provide maintenance and process their cargo. We are able to brief them on local airspace and any kind of special instructions we have for this AOR, utilizing aircraft from other locations to help bolster our capability if necessary.”

The exercise was a success overall with all seven aircraft from both wings flying in joint formations as planned, Boyington said.

“We are guests at Yokota (AB) and this airspace, but we are one big Hercules family,” said 1st Lt. Riley Richards, 61st AS C-130J pilot. “Having that tight-knit community makes training in these new environments all the easier. Given the opportunity to come back, I would really enjoy another opportunity to train alongside the Airmen and aircrews of Yokota (AB).”

The Rock crosses the Pacific

A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., taxis on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, as part of a capstone exercise taking place in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, Feb. 11, 2020. The capstone and Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, provides a unique training opportunity while exposing 61st AS Airmen to the Indo-Pacom Area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

The Rock crosses the Pacific

A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron flies over Camp Fuji, Japan, during a capstone exercise taking place in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, Feb. 10, 2020. During the exercise, aircraft from the 36th AS along with the 41st and 61st from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., were able to complete formation flight training as well as drop pallets consisting of simulated heavy equipment and Container Delivery System bundles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

The Rock crosses the Pacific

A heavy-equipment payload is dropped from a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron at the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan, during a capstone exercise taking place in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, Feb. 10, 2020. During the exercise, aircraft from the 36th AS along with the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., were able to complete formation flight training, as well as drop pallets consisting of simulated heavy equipment and Container Delivery System bundles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

The Rock crosses the Pacific

An Airman directs a U.S. Marine Corps Rubber Tired, Articulated Steering, Multipurpose Vehicle, or TRAM, assigned to the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan, during a capstone exercise taking place in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, Feb. 10, 2020. Airmen from the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron loaded eight bundles and parachutes onto a truck to be taken back to Yokota Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

The Rock crosses the Pacific

A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 61st Airlift Squadron from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., sits parked at Yokota Air Base, Japan, during a capstone exercise taking place in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, Feb. 13, 2020. The exercise involved various types of training, including distributed operations, Agile Combat Employment, Combat Air Force integration and executing mission-type orders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brieana E. Bolfing)

/U.S. Air Force Release. View in full here.