SecAF visits Yokota Air Base

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited here Nov. 20-21 to meet with Airmen, discuss her priorities and see first-hand Yokota Air Base’s mission and capabilities as the Pacific Air Forces airlift hub.

During her visit James met with U.S. Forces Japan and 374th Airlift Wing leadership, ate breakfast with the Airmen, and toured a number of facilities to include the Western Pacific transportation facility, which serves as a key logistical hub in the region.

She also held an all call to share her top three priorities, discuss the challenges the force faces in the current fiscal environment, and to answer questions from Airmen.

"We are experiencing a lot of strain right now, as we are the smallest Air Force we've ever been, with the smallest number of people," she said, addressing the Air Force's high ops tempo. "But we're also a busy Air Force, whether it's providing humanitarian missions here in the Pacific, fighting Ebola in West Africa or conducting air strikes in Iraq and Syria."

While speaking on the difficulties faced by the Air Force, James highlighted the recent successes of Yokota AB.

"You've shouldered your fair share, or more, of missions here at Yokota," James said. "Whether it was during Operation Damayan in the Philippines, or Operation Tomodachi here in Japan, you have provided hope and aid to people in very dire situations. You should be very, very proud of the work you have done."

At the 459th Airlift Squadron, James was able to witness first-hand Yokota Airmen focusing on one of her top priorities: making every dollar count by improving efficiency and ensuring good stewardship of taxpayer's dollars.

"One shout out for Team Yokota, I learned yesterday about Low-Cost, Low-Altitude bundles," she said during her all call, referencing the bundles that use readily available resources and repurposed personnel parachutes to build supply pallets at a fraction of the cost of other airdrop bundles. These pallets are dropped at low altitude, which improves drop accuracy.

"These are small bundles that are dropped from C-130's during relief operations. Each bundle used to cost about $300 and each bundle now costs about $20. And you know who came up with that concept? Four of our Airmen did."

James also spoke to the importance of Yokota airlift to the Air Force.

"I have been asked how important providing global mobility is to our entire force before, and the answer is that it's critically important," James said. "If you can't get from point A to point B, or you run out of gas because the tankers aren't available, you don't have a mission. And Yokota plays an important role to global mobility here in the Pacific.”

Her final message for Airmen focused on the importance of the Pacific region and Yokota AB’s role in it.

"The Pacific is an area full of challenges and great potential," James said. "And that's why the U.S. is so dedicated to the region. You are the front line defenders, the front line responders and the front line diplomats in this very large, very important neighborhood."