News>Yokota's eyes and ears in Operation Tomodachi
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Representatives from Yokota Air Base's Installation Control Center and Emergency Operations Center work together to collect and track information March 28 in support of Operation Tomodachi. Operation Tomodachi is the U.S. Air Force's effort to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the government of Japan in the wake of the March 11 disasters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Sharron Santayana, 374th Airlift Wing command and control, collects information about incoming aircraft March 28 in support of Operation Tomodachi. Operation Tomodachi is the U.S. Air Force's effort to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the government of Japan in the wake of the March 11 disasters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen)
by Master Sgt. Kimberly Spinner
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
3/31/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When engaged in a large effort like Operation Tomodachi, military units need a centralized way to process and coordinate mission-essential details. The organizations comprising Yokota's command center have filled that need since the earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan, March 11.
One of these organizations, the Emergency Operations Center, has worked on a strategic level to coordinate emergency preparedness, emergency management and disaster management functions here at Yokota.
The EOC, along with its partner organizations, then relays this information to wing leadership in the Installation Control Center, so that they can make informed decisions regarding the base's assets and personnel.
"The Installation Control Center and Emergency Operations Center serve as the central hub for agency coordination and information flow across the entire 374th Airlift Wing," said Lt. Col. Karl Kent, 374th Airlift Wing ICC director. "Each and every person on the ICC/EOC floor is critical to managing and facilitating the Wing's herculean efforts in support of Operations Tomodachi and Pacific Passage."
The ICC and EOC are just two of the command center components. Seated just a few feet from the EOC and ICC are another group of individuals, the Command Post Airmen.
"Even though we are a small unit, we play a big role in making sure people get what they need," said Staff Sgt. Sharon Santayana, 374th Airlift Wing command and control.
On top of all of their other duties, the command post personnel directly support the EOC and, in some cases, act as the interim EOC until the actual EOC can get established.
Command Post operations have increased since the start of Operation Tomodachi, but the command and control personnel remain positive and ready to do what needs to be done to accomplish the mission.
"It makes me feel really good to help out our host nation, and I am glad to do it," said Sgt. Santayana.
The Command Post personnel provide command, control, communications, and information support to the base by receiving and relaying command and control instructions.
Not only do they relay messages but they also initiate quick reaction checklists in support of situations like suspected or actual sabotage, nuclear incidents, natural disasters, aircraft accidents or incidents, evacuations, dispersal, and aerospace anomalies.
Another organization in the command center, the Maintenance Operation Center, experienced a sudden spike in operations when 11 commercial aircraft were diverted to Yokota after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Shortly thereafter, Yokota also became host to a number of aircraft from other units that deployed here to help with the relief effort.
"We monitor all flying for all of our aircraft and transient aircraft as well" said Airman 1st Class Matthew Knef, 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron weapons systems coordinator. "We've been super busy because it's been non-stop the whole time."
MOC personnel monitor and coordinate sortie production, maintenance production, and the execution of the flying and maintenance schedules by relaying information to base agencies.
"Without us coordinating fuel requests, parking, bio and other needs, the aircraft couldn't make it down range," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Demarco, 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron weapons systems coordinator.
The information that flows through the MOC plays a crucial role in informing wing leadership's decisions and accomplishing the mission while keeping people safe.
"The MOC is the eyes and ears of the 374th Maintenance Group Commander, said Master Sgt. Benjamin Williams, Maintenance Operations Center Superintendent. "Their dedication and attention to detail help keep maintenance and operations personnel safe."
The hard work and dedication of the command center personnel were instrumental in the success of Operatoin Tomodachi.
"It feels good to be able to be a part of something as important as Operation Tomodachi," said Airman Knef. "I'm proud to be part of the team."