The Defense Department on Monday ended all voluntary authorized departures from Japan. They had been in place following the powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated that country on March 11, enabling thousands of family members of US military personnel to safely evacuate to various locations in the United States. “The Defense Department concurs with the State Department’s determination that the situation in Japan does not pose significant risk to US citizens. We will continue to ensure the safety of our families is at the forefront of every decision we make,” said a Pentagon spokeswoman. Evacuated family members are now authorized to return at the US government’s expense unless their military sponsor is scheduled for a permanent-change-of-station move out of Japan within 60 days. In that case, their return requires the approval of their respective service Secretary. (AFPS report by Lisa Daniel)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.