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New unit strengthens U.S.-Japan alliance

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- More than a year of planning reaches a milestone in strengthening the U.S.-Japan security alliance Jan. 5 with a ceremony activating Detachment 1, 13th Air Force, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Col. Michael MacWilliam, formerly the 5th AF director of operations and plans, will command the detachment, which will be tightly integrated with 5th AF.

This event represents a significant investment by the U.S. Air Force to enhance command and control of air operations around Japan and better align the U.S. Air Force presence in Japan to be more interoperable with U.S. and Japanese air, naval, and ground forces. The 50-person detachment will be responsible for planning, coordinating and executing air operations in and around Japan by working with the 613th Air and Space Operations Center in Hawaii and the 5th Air Force staff at Yokota AB to coordinate with their Japan Air Self Defense Force counterparts.

In December, the Pacific's top U.S. Airman, Gen. Paul V. Hester, commander of Pacific Air Forces, Lt. Gen. Loyd S. Utterback, commander of 13th AF, and Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, commander of 5th AF and U.S. Forces Japan, met with Japanese Gen. Tadashi Yoshida, chief of staff of the JASDF, to formally unveil plans to stand up Det. 1, 13th AF.

"This U.S. Air Force reorganization is driven by new security realities and new capabilities. Ballistic missile defense and space and cyber-space capabilities require theater-wide perspectives, coordination and response. Det. 1 bridges the capability from 13th AF and the 613th AOC to better support 5th AF and their work with the JASDF," General Utterback said.

"The 5th AF structure and forces will remain in Japan with more than 13,000 Airmen and three assigned wings continually modernizing to defend Japan and our collective interests in the Pacific region. Important relationships established over the years between 5th AF and JASDF will continue, as 5th AF remains the 'face of the U.S. Air Force' to JASDF. The only difference will be the additional U.S. Air Force capability in Japan provided by a strengthened relationship between 5th AF and 13th AF," said General Wright.

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