• Published
  • By 1st Lt. Renee Douglas
  • 353rd Special Operations Group

The 353rd Special Operations Group, stationed at Kadena AB, Japan, activated the 21st Special Operations Squadron and 753rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Yokota AB, Japan, July 1, 2019. The squadrons will operate and maintain CV-22 Ospreys, AFSOC’s primary long-range mobility platform.

“The Air Commandos that will fly, maintain and support this mission will deliver a one-of-a-kind, vertical-lift capability unmatched by other fixed- or rotary-wing platforms,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Slife AFSOC commander. “This platform’s combination of speed, range and operational flexibility affords U.S. Indo-Pacific Command unparalleled special operations capabilities in the region as part of America’s commitment to Japan’s defense and regional peace and security as outlined in our National Defense Strategy.”

Yokota Air Base is the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for peacetime and contingency operations. Forward-basing the CV-22 at Yokota Air Base provides increased security, disaster preparedness, and emergency airlift capability during crisis situations.

“For nearly 15 months Airmen have rotated through the base working tirelessly to build the framework for this squadron,” said Col. Jason Kirby, 353rd Special Operations Group Commander. “Through their efforts and the tremendous support and partnership we have developed with leaders in U.S. Forces Japan and at Yokota Air Base, the 21st SOS and 753rd SOAMXS now proudly carry forward the legacy of special operations in INDOPACOM.” 

Operational Squadrons like the 21st SOS are the backbone of the U.S. Air Force and depend on units like the 753rd SOAMXS to ensure they are trained, equipped and ready to fight.  The 21st SOS lineage dates back to 1939, and its last active assignment was from 1988-2007, when the unit flew MH-53s, a now-retired rotary wing AFSOC aircraft. The mission of the 21st SOS is to execute rapid global response supporting infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces in defense of Japan.

“The Air Commandos of this squadron are so proud to carry forward the legacy of those that came before us,” said Lt. Col. Jason Hock, 21st SOS commander. “We will deliver an unmatched capability to the theater and do it safely and in cooperation with our Japanese and regional partners.”

The Secretary of the Defense approved permanent basing status for CV-22s assigned to Yokota Air Base, effective Oct 1, 2018. The aircraft will conduct all operations in accordance with bilateral agreements between the Government of Japan and the U.S. Government.

U.S. Special Operations Forces are the “Tip of the Spear” when it comes to the defense of Japan and in developing interoperability and building long-lasting international relationships, and the CV-22 will carry this tradition forward as we work with our Pacific allies and partners.