Kadena AB, Japan—The relationship between US forces here on Okinawa and their Japanese counterparts continues to evolve nearly a year after Japan lifted post-World War II restrictions on the use of its military force around the globe, Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish, commander of the 18th Wing, told Air Force Magazine. Based on the changes and the defense cooperation guidelines, Cornish said the Japan Air Self Defense Force is now able to “participate in more planning sessions with us. We’ve opened the door a little more in understanding each other and our ability to integrate and operate together,” he said. One key change has been in command and control. The JASDF continues to invest in its network capabilities allowing US and Japanese forces to share data links, which Cornish says has been “a great enhancer in terms of our situational awareness. That will become central to how we are able to interoperate” in the future. Cornish said there are several Japanese noncommissioned officers enrolled in USAF professional military education courses at Kadena. USAF and JASDF forces also just completed a planning session that will enable mid-level officers to better work together for contingency planning, he added. (See also: Rising Partners from the September 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.