KANOYA AIR FORCE BASE, Japan -- Lt Col. Alexander Kelly, 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron incoming commander, formally assumed command of the 319th ERS at Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Kanoya Air Base, Japan, October 23, 2022.
The lineage of the 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron dates to the 319th Fighter Squadron that was constituted and activated in 1942 at Mitchell Field, New York. Over the years, it was inactivated, reactivated, reorganized, and redesignated multiple times. The unit was last inactivated in 1977 as the 319th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Fast forward roughly 45 years, and on Kanoya Air Base among Japanese Allies the historic moment was witnessed during the reactivation of the unit as the 319th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.
“The significance of this deployment cannot be understated,” said Col. Jun Oh, 374th Operations Group commander and presiding officer. “Our work here, together, to serve side-by-side supporting real-world requirements is groundbreaking. It is the culmination of significant hard work on both sides and exactly the kind of cooperative activity we must do to evolve the U.S.-Japan Alliance to meet the evolving challenges of today and the future.”
The assumption of command also served as an activation ceremony that kicks off a yearlong deployment. Pacific Air Forces is deploying MQ-9 Reapers, a medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft, and personnel to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Kanoya Air Base to conduct airborne reconnaissance operations in close coordination with the Japan Ministry of Defense in furtherance of the U.S.–Japan treaty and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The MQ-9s will support Japan–U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance priorities throughout the Indo-Pacific. This will enhance the joint ability to respond to threats and emerging situations, while strengthening the alliance posture. Furthermore, the MQ-9s can be used to cooperatively address regional challenges such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and other issues affecting the Indo-Pacific.
“We are grateful that after 75 years we can come together to write a new chapter together in this strategic location,” Oh said “In doing so we are excited to be not just representatives of the United States and the U.S. Air Force, but also your neighbors, your friends, and members of your community.”