U.S., Japan transport cargo, Airmen over 1,000 miles

TSUIKI AIR BASE, Japan --

Transporting more than 100,000 lbs. of cargo and 100 U.S. Air Force Airmen over 1,000 miles to Tsuiki Air Base, Japan didn’t happen on a whim. In fact, it required months of coordination between eight agencies from the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron to the Japan Ministry of Defense.

The weight of this load fell on the shoulders of three Airmen assigned to the 35th LRS, as part of a redeployment assistance team, or RAT. The Airmen ensured the movement of equipment including everything from jet engines to wrenches, from Misawa Air Base to Tsuiki AB.

“Coordinating the movement of the cargo for the Tsuiki aviation training relocation was heavily dependent on each unit's project officer and the unit deployment managers,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Gregory Pineo, a 35th LRS deployment manager. “To execute this ATR we had to prepare cargo concurrently with phase two of Beverly Sunrise 17-07, a recent readiness exercise.”

The ATR, hosted by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 8th Air Wing, focuses on training in different geographical locations and cultural environments while strengthening U.S. and JASDF interoperability and combat readiness.

Over the course of six days, multiple 35th LRS units packed cargo and ensured transportation from Fukuoka International Airport, Japan to Tsuiki AB.

“Organizing cargo for transport for the ATR was a lengthy process,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Derek Kahaunaele, the 35th LRS contingency war planner. “Whenever you have to prepare cargo for military aircraft, it needs to be deemed air worthy through a joint inspection from Yokota Air Base and then manifested to be able to travel.”

Kahaunaele went on to explain inspections ensured all cargo being sent had accurate weights, dimensions, hazardous paperwork and placards. After the manifesting was complete, Air Mobility Command inspected the cargo making sure everything matched up and cargo was aircraft ready.

The RAT members can often be found driving forklifts to load aircraft or trailers, filling out customs forms, planning logistics and coordinating with home station, major command and host-nation agencies.

Even with the language barrier, the RAT members said they were happy with the support received from Japan agencies.

"If there was an issue they came up with solutions,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Johnson, the 35th LRS traffic management office outbound cargo supervisor.  “They really did everything thing they could to make operations run smoothly.”

Because of the seamless coordination between the two nations, the team successfully deployed 53 short tons, 2,000 lbs. of cargo and 100 personnel from Misawa to Tsuiki on Oct. 2.