The Air Force dispatched a team of seven specialists to aid the Thai government in reopening Don Mueang International Airport following the worst floods there in decades. Deployed from Andersen AFB, Guam, members of the 36th Contingency Response Group joined US marines in strategizing how to drain Thailand’s second largest airport and major military air base in Bangkok. The airfield “is the primary hub used to send supplies and relief efforts throughout the country,” explained Lt. Col. Joey Mull, 36th CRG deputy commander. With the Royal Thai Air Force’s headquarters flooded and Thai C-130s up to their bellies in standing water, US and Thai personnel began draining and re-routing water into canals at the end of November. Along with military assistance, the State Department is providing some $11 million in relief to Thailand, with the airport as a key target of the aid. (Andersen report by SrA. Veronica McMahon) (Marine Corps release) (Clinton remarks)
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.