Yokota welcomes new USFJ, 5th AF Command Chief
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Command Chief Master Sgt. James Laurent is no stranger to Airmen stationed in Japan. The former command chief of Misawa Air Base's 35th Fighter Wing recently took the helm and assumed command chief duties for both U.S. Forces, Japan and 5th Air Forces headquarters at Yokota Air Base.
Laurent is the communications link between the enlisted community and the USFJ and 5th AF commander, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella. He ensures policies are known and understood, and advises the commander of important enlisted force issues and concerns.
His goal is a simple one: to help make USFJ and 5AF even better. He says his top priorities closely mirror those Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella set for 5AF and USFJ.
"We must be mission ready, develop our bilateral relationship with Japan and other countries, and care for and develop our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen," Laurent said. "I'm also an advisor to service members, and in order to do so, I need to know what their needs and goals are. So my number one objective is to get to know them and their families."
Laurent has already begun the quest to get to know Airmen at Yokota as he recently attended a luncheon with his wife, Terri, at the Samurai Café Dining Facility with junior enlisted Airmen, discussing topics ranging from his past experiences, the future of the Air Force, sequestration and how to stop sexual assault.
Laurent said he would advocate for swift and decisive justice when dealing with incidents of sexual assault. He also said that as co-workers, friends and fellow Airmen, it's of vital importance to help each other out and step in when necessary.
Laurent also encourages Airmen to learn about the culture and the people of Japan.
"We work with Japan Air Self Defense Force members every day," Laurent said. "I want to see our military members take those relationships from the job and expand on that. Have dinner together, enjoy events together and make it a more personal relationship."
Over the years, Laurent has seen the Air Force go through a number of transformations, including three uniform changes and the implementation of the internet and use of e-mail in the military.
"We are much smaller now than in 1986, but we still accomplish a great deal," Laurent said. "Generally speaking, Airmen today are better educated than my peers were. We have grown accustomed to the digital world."
Though the Air Force may be smaller, it's the quality of the Airmen versus the quantity that makes us the best Air Force in the world, he said
"My first impressions of Yokota have been great," Laurent said. "One thing that stands out to me is when we do briefings with units, we see how proud leadership is of their Airmen. Instead of getting experienced Airmen to talk to leadership, they're bringing out their junior enlisted members. The Airmen that we have here are phenomenal. It's a great sign of how solid our Air Force is."