Military's Pacific presence -- but why?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Andrew McIntyre
  • 36th Airlift Squadron
I struggled to find a theme for this article. As I woke up on the morning of July 5 after a night of great fireworks, the topic fell right in my lap. I learned that North Korea had test fired multiple missiles into the Sea of Japan. 

I had followed the launch speculation for weeks, but after a while, it dropped out of my crosscheck. What a difference a day makes! 

North Korea launched seven missiles in 24 hours. Is there any doubt as to why we are here? 

We’ve practiced time and again for this scenario. Many would argue, given our recent exercise schedule, that we have overpracticed this scenario. It is events such as this that remind us how important a forward-based Pacific presence is and how quickly we would have to respond. 

The missile launches provide a great mechanism for us to examine how best we can
support our mission. 

Using the timeline of the test shots, we can assume that the opening stages of conflict could come very quickly with lethal consequences. Yokota’s Airmen will have to react rapidly on multiple levels. 

On a personal level, we will need our individual readiness items. 

Some things are easy to have close by like your Airman’s manual or personal protective
equipment. The recent operational readiness exercises and inspection has helped us to do this. 

Some things may not be so obvious or easy. A great example is your family’s noncombatant evacuation folders. They need periodic review just like your gas mask. 

Speaking of which, all the items in our C-bags have a shelf life as well. Assuming you
needed your “real-world” gear tomorrow, would all your equipment be current? 

Every Airman here at Yokota must be completely ready now. The threat will not allow us the luxury of preparation time. With your personal readiness assured, it is time to look at your unit. 

Each unit here plays a vital role in supporting the mission. We can only fulfill that role if
we’re intimately familiar with it. Fortunately, we have source documents that tell us who,
what, when, where, and how your unit supports the fight. From the commander to unit deployment monitor, to the member, we each must know our role. As my boss stressed to me the other day, unit leaders – from the commander to the noncommissioned
officer – should instill a sense of ownership for carrying out your mission. 

Now that your people and unit are ready, it is time to interact with the other Yokota

We all have to work together to make the mission happen. 

Doctrinally, we call this unity of effort. It seems simple enough, but turning doctrine into practice is never easy. 

Have you identified and established relationships with the other key unit’s that help
you accomplish your unit’s mission? Without strong ties and sharing the responsibility of mission accomplishment between units, we won’t achieve unity of effort. In the missile scenario, the time to establish those relationships is now. 

Seven missiles in 24 hours … yes, what a difference a day can

It is worth a few minutes to think how this event might influence you, your unit, and the
374th Airlift Wing. 

Stay sharp and press on!