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Wing executes first LORE of fiscal year

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 5,000 Airmen here had the opportunity to sharpen their warfighting skills as the 18th Wing kicked-off its first local operational readiness exercise of the fiscal year Monday. 

The weeklong Beverly High 08-1 LORE tested the wing's ability to respond to higher headquarters directives to support air combat operations in the Pacific should it become necessary. 

"Our number one goal is to help preserve peace and stability in this region in support of our security alliance with Japan," said Brig. Gen. Brett Williams, 18th Wing commander. "These exercises are critical for maintaining our readiness to deliver airpower, any time, anywhere in support of any contingency." 

The exercise also served as preparation for the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection scheduled for March 2008. 

During the exercise the 18th Wing Inspector General's office gauged the wing's ability to support war taskings and execute contingency plans. The IG's exercise evaluation team looked at individual missions and skills for each of the squadrons to determine what the wing does well and where there is room for progress. 

"First and foremost this exercise is about proving and improving our combat capability as a wing," said Maj. Jason Settle, 18th Wing IG, chief of exercises. "It also allows us to test all the mission sets such as initial response, generation of combat airpower, and then employment of combat airpower all while practicing to survive and operate during war-time conditions." 

Major Settle said the wing's greatest strength is its ability to employ combat airpower. 

"I think the wing can do it hands down any day of the week," he said. "The reason why we do well on exercises is that we prove everyday that we can do it, and do it effectively." 

For this exercise, Airmen "fought the base," unlike past exercises where they were "deployed" to other locations. Some units did "deploy" during this exercise, but the majority of Airmen executed their combat mission from here as may be required during an actual contingency in the Pacific. 

"It gives the average Airmen a chance to practice their everyday job in a way that focuses on accomplishing a contingency operation instead of ordinary training, and also gives them an idea of what it would be like in a real war-time operation," said Major Settle. 

Airmen worked 12-hour shifts and 24-hour operations during the exercise to generate aircraft sorties, process cargo, deploy personnel, prepare for inbound units and execute a wide variety of functions in support of simulated combat operations. 

"For Airmen to stay motivated during the long hours they should treat these exercises like a real-world contingency and keep a positive attitude," said Major Settle. "Everyone would remain focused if they thought about it more as a real-world scenario than just an exercise." 

With Kadena being the "Keystone of the Pacific" the 18th Wing mission is to defend U.S. and Japanese mutual interests by providing a responsive staging and operational air base with integrated, deployable, and forward based combat airpower. 

"We are here to promote stability in the Pacific," said Major Settle. "By exercising, we prove that we are ready and capable of doing that. We demonstrate our capability to perform any task that comes our way."