KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) — Service members, aircraft and equipment from the 44th Fighter Squadron, 909th Air Refueling Squadron and 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron temporarily repositioned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, June 18, as part of an aviation training relocation mission.
The ATR is designed to promote integration among Pacific Air Forces units in the region, provide off-station training opportunities for the Kadena Air Base units, and strengthen the Air Force’s ability to respond to a potential threat in the region.
“We probably go on an ATR two to three times a year,” said Maj. Brett Faber, the 44th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “Sometimes that’s coupled with exercises, and sometimes it’s just a training relocation. In this case, it’s just a training relocation.”
Faber said the ATR will allow the Kadena AB units to integrate with the 36th Wing and the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as they perform different mission sets with the B-52 Stratofortress.
Faber said the training emulates a standard component of the Air Force’s warfighting posture: fighting from a deployed location.
“The benefit we have of going to Andersen Air Force Base is that we’re working essentially from a deployed environment,” he said. “We don’t have all of the operational tools available back home as well as the maintenance tools back home,” he said. “Additionally, we have the opportunity to integrate with the B-52s that are out there, as opposed to not having any dissimilar assets around here.”
Capt. Scott Skibitsky, the 909th Air Refueling Squadron chief of flight scheduling, said though the majority of aircraft participating in the ATR are F-15 Eagles from the 44th FS, the 909th ARS and 961st AACS will also see major advantages.
“It increases our readiness and ability to respond to anything in the region,” he said. “Anytime we’re out doing this, it increases our ability to operate from any location. That’s one of the major benefits of the ATR.”
One of the greatest benefits for the local Okinawan community comes from the lessened noise impact to areas surrounding the base.
“There are a lot of fighter operations here, and they do make a lot of noise,” Skibitsky said. “Having that many fighters off station, it’ll make it a little quieter around here. We’re less intrusive this way.”
The units intend to return in mid-July. Though the training isn’t relatively long, it provides a solid testament that the Air Force is trained and ready to project effective airpower anywhere on the globe.