“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).”