KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The island of Okinawa, Japan, also referred to as the Keystone to the Pacific, is home to multiple U.S. military installations. Although they have many differences, the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps units on Okinawa have one shared interest: the need for Rapid Global Mobility.
The 733rd Air Mobility Squadron fulfills that need as the enroute mobility experts for the island.
“The Enroute Pacesetters provide Rapid Global Mobility in the Western Pacific,” said Lt. Col. Michael Garrott, 733rd AMS commander. “This is a strategically important location in this area of responsibility. We have ambiguous and emerging threats, so we have to balance today’s enroute system with tomorrow’s fight. We do that through partnership.”
The Air Mobility Command command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, visited the squadron’s Airmen June 29 and 30 and witnessed how the diverse squadron comes together as a team to support the various units across Okinawa.
“I loved the energy and positivity I felt while visiting the 733rd AMS,” said Frey. “These Airmen are problem solvers. Although they are faced with challenging situations that come with their diverse mission, they turn those challenges into accomplishments. They become better for it.”
As a squadron with 260 members, the 733rd AMC has approximately 50 local national employees, a dozen U.S. civilians, and a Navy reservist, with the remainder active duty Air Force. While the need for strong partnerships begins inside the squadron, it extends outside their unit and AMC.
“With so many joint partners on this island, that’s what makes us so focused on the chief of staff of the Air Force’s second focus area of ‘strengthen joint partnerships,’” said Garrott.
From humanitarian assistance disaster relief to real world and exercise contingency missions, the 733rd AMS provides mobility, command and control, aerial port services and enroute maintenance to keep units moving through Okinawa.
Garrot said his unit regularly partners with the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Army special forces units from Torii Station, and the Air Force’s 353rdSpecial Operations Group.
Building a partnership with the U.S. Army 1st Battalion 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Torii Station did not happen overnight, said Capt. Krystal McGuiness, 733rd AMS aerial port operations officer.
“The aerial port’s most restricted and complicated joint partner is the 1-1 Special Forces Group,” said McGuiness. “We had to figure out a way to innovate AMC airlift and our Defense Travel Regulation to make that mission go on time.”
In the past the 733rd AMS was not on the same page as the special forces group, said McGuiness. After multiple occasions where the 733rd AMS reacted to deployments versus being proactive, leadership from all units decided it was time to start finding a better way.
“It was really just an exercise of understanding,” said McGuiness. “We didn’t really understand their mission at first, so it took us getting to know what we could do to meet this customer half way.”
As a team, representatives from cargo, passenger and air terminal operations sat down with the customers at Torii Station. Leadership was read into the mission and representatives from all involved units conducted a review of what took place after each deployment.
The joint inspector, ATOC and passenger terminal supervisors dug into the regulation to find a solution, said McGuiness.
“Our special handling section created a new way to conduct our joint inspection in our own warehouse,” said McGuiness. “We cut multiple hours from our normal joint inspection by allowing them to process through our terminal. This includes both aircraft services terminal and our passenger terminal.”
Meeting with the 733rd AMS Airmen, Frey witnessed how teamwork and partnership play a strong role in the success of the AMC mission here.
“If you want to build a strong partnership between two extremely different units, the first step is to learn how to communicate and understand each other’s missions,” said Frey. “The Enroute Pacesetters are making things happen simply by meeting face-to-face and communicating. Simple fixes often make a huge impact.”
After her visit, Frey acknowledged the important steps the 733rd AMS takes to provide Rapid Global Mobility in the Pacific.
“I end my tour of the Pacific enroute system with the reinforced confidence that Mobility Airmen are adapting to the various missions,” said Frey. “Being able to remain flexible and innovative is the key, and the Airmen will continue to make the mission happen through innovation and dedication to the mobility mission. Whether it’s a real world contingency or a humanitarian assistance mission, our Mobility Airmen meet global demands with innovation and tenacity.”