TOKYO, Japan -- Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, met with U.S. and Japanese senior leaders here Aug. 6 and 7 as part of his first trip to the Indo-Pacific region as the commander.
Brown visited Japan to affirm the strength of the alliance and shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, as well as to seek opportunities to enhance cooperation and coordination with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF or Koku Jieitai).
“I’m excited to be back in the Pacific, to see firsthand the evolution that has occurred over the last decade,” Brown said, who started his career at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, as a young lieutenant. While focused on operations in the Central Command Area of Responsibility in his most recent assignments, Brown served two tours in Korea, to include command of the 8th Fighter Wing, the “Wolf Pack,” at Kunsan.
The Indo-Pacific region has grown increasingly complex since he was last here, and, more importantly, Brown emphasized that current challenges aren’t isolated to any one area of the world.
“Those who choose to create challenges for other nations don’t just stop in one region, they are seeking global impacts,” he said, emphasizing what the National Defense Strategy calls “global disorder.”
“The NDS calls on us to not only build a more lethal force, and concurrently, to strengthen our alliances and partnerships throughout the world, making visits like these and our daily efforts to increase our capabilities together ever more important,” he continued.
Over the two-day visit, Brown met with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Hiroto Izumi, Defense Minister Itsunori Ododera, Chief of Joint Staff Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, JASDF Chief of Staff Gen. Yoshinara Marumo and JASDF Air Defense Command (ADC) Commander Lt. Gen. Shigeki Muto. The general also met with U.S. Embassy officials and Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, and members of his key staff.
While at the ADC, Brown observed a ballistic missile defense demonstration and visited with the Airmen responsible for the vital mission set, commenting on the precision of their work.
“Recent tensions have refined not only our readiness, but the readiness of our allies and partners throughout the region,” Brown said, reminding us that “along with shared values and shared interests, we also share many of the same challenges, presenting great opportunities to continue to learn from and improve each other’s capabilities.”
Among those challenges includes an increase in Japanese intercepts of Chinese and Russian military aircraft operating in the region. That increase, however, has also created a proficiency the JASDF may share with other countries in the region to help respond to similar threats.
In addition to security concerns, discussions throughout the visit focused on opportunities to cooperate further in areas of fifth generation integration, ballistic missile defense, the employment of new operating concepts like PACAF’s agile combat employment, and expanding to more multilateral exercises and engagements with like-minded nations in the region.
The JASDF received their first F-35As to Misawa in January, allowing for timely integration with not only the U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs already in Japan, but also the U.S. Air Force F-35As forward-deployed at the time as part of a Theater Security Package to Kadena.
Both nations also affirmed the importance of and their shared commitment to continued participation in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence missions. Most recently six Koku Jieitai F-15s conducted bilateral training with B-52s deployed from Andersen Air Base, Guam, within the vicinity of Japan.
Brown also shared his appreciation for the cooperation and coordination that resulted in the rescue of the F-15 pilot who crashed in the waters south of Okinawa in June. The JASDF’s quick response was vital in saving the pilot’s life, and testament to the many rescue exercises that take place in the region.
“Not only does this validate the bilateral coordination happening at all levels, but how important it is that we continue to work together so we are best prepared for any contingency,” Brown said.
“The challenges we face are complex. However, I am confident in our abilities to work together, to build upon the cooperation that has existed between the U.S. and Japan for more than 60 years to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”