YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 35 aircraft and approximately 800 Airmen from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and Air Combat Command deployed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility (USINDOPACOM’s AOR) in July to participate in Operation Pacific Iron 2021. Yokota Air Base provided airlift support to multiple locations throughout Pacific Iron via C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron (AS).
Pacific Iron 2021 is a PACAF dynamic force employment operation to project forces into USINDOPACOM’s AOR in support of the 2018 National Defense Strategy which called on the military to be a more lethal, adaptive and resilient force.
“A lot of what we do consists of mobilizing the units and their equipment,” said Capt. Zachary Holland, 36th AS instructor pilot. “As some units are going out to more austere locations, we bring them fuel and supplies, enabling the fighters and Air Force assets to complete the mission.”
This generation of airpower in remote locations is referred to as Agile Combat Employment or ACE.
“ACE gives us the chance to really push ourselves so we’re a more flexible force when facing our near-peer competitors,” Holland said. “We’re here implementing our tactics to really see what works, what doesn’t, and how we can make it better.”
In addition to supporting Pacific Iron 2021, Yokota Airmen and aircraft are also supporting the Army-led Forager 21 exercise.
Forager 21 is meant to enhance the employment of forces throughout the Indo-Pacific by the U.S. military and its allies. It addresses a full range of security measures in support of regional alliances and international agreements across all domains: land, air, sea, space and cyber space.
“This is a great opportunity for us to train and work with our joint partners on things that we don’t get to do every day,” Holland said.
What our Airmen are doing here makes an impact because we know this is the future of warfighting, according to Holland.
“We have to change how we’re doing things in our current military environment,” Holland said. “We need to anticipate and train for the evolution of warfare.”
The exercises were an opportunity for the U.S. military and their allies to exercise joint, integrated, multi-domain operations in an archipelagic environment while testing emerging capabilities - ultimately bringing the militaries together to emphasize a strong commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.