At the ready: Team Kadena conducts combined NEO and RPU exercise

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Airmen from the 18th Wing simulated accepting personnel and evacuees through a base-wide combined deployment and evacuation exercise Dec. 4 here.

“Today we are exercising our ability to operate two key components to ensure our readiness in the Pacific,” said Maj. Sean Parker, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron director of operations. “We are looking at our ability to receive noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) evacuees from locations in the Pacific other than Okinawa and we are also looking at our ability to receive and support contingency operations here.”

In a real-world operation, Kadena AB becomes one of many hubs for forward deployed Airmen and NEO evacuees from all over the Pacific Air Force’s area of responsibility.

According to Parker, exercising Team Kadena’s ability to receive forces while simultaneously taking care of evacuees can be difficult.

“Testing reception is challenging, it involves a number of different processing centers and bed down locations,” Parker explained. “They are very different processes and exercising them both at the same time stresses our ability to command and control the events at the same time.”

Over a period of two days hundreds of Airmen, roleplaying as deployed forces and evacuees, were able to in-process to the base as deployed forces while evacuees were taken care of and simulated transported safely back to the U.S. By exercising these reception operations at the same time Team Kadena tested their skill sets and identified best practices for planning future contingency operations.

During the exercise Team Kadena members in-processed to the base, as augmentees, through the reception processing unit at the Schilling Community Center while Airmen, role playing as civilian evacuees, in processed at the reception control center at the Risner Fitness Center.

“Processing through NEO was easy and awesome to follow,” said Senior Airman Ashley White, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron NEO evacuee. “Everything was smooth and I felt I received the attention that I needed. They talked to me like a dependent and were very comforting and welcoming, I couldn’t ask for any more than that.”

White said she feels comfort in knowing her husband will be taken care of if he ever has to go through a NEO.

“I feel very confident in going home and being able to explain this to my husband about what he needs to do, what he needs to prepare for, and how easy the process is,” she continued. “I think it’s beneficial to practice these operations.”

U.S. Air Force installations throughout the Pacific routinely conduct exercises to maintain readiness.

“Regardless of what is happening in the world we always need to be ready and this gets us closer to that goal line,” Parker said. “If something were to happen in the region, that our people are trained proficient and know how to integrate everyone’s rolls to ensure our effectiveness in the region.”

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