JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Air attachés, Security Cooperation Officers (SCO), and civil servants attended the U.S. Air Force Indo-Pacific Air Attaché-SCO Forum here, Sept. 25-28, 2018.
The Air Force International Affairs office organized the forum to improve integration between air attachés and SCOs to increase efforts for strengthening alliances and partnerships within the Indo-Pacific region.
“This forum allows us to bring our attachés and SCOs together to communicate with their counterparts and find out what their issues are so they can network and use lessons learned to solve those challenges,” said Michael Shoults, director of policy, programs and strategy, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs.
One key objective for the forum was to evaluate and support a new Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) initiative.
“All of our work building relationships with our allies and partners is going to get us interoperability, influence, access, basing, and overflight,” said Gen. CQ Brown Jr., PACAF commander. “In some cases it will be all five, in other cases, it’s just going to be influence.”
Brown mentioned PACAF’s three lines of effort for the group: supporting operational concepts for great power competition, strengthening alliances and partnerships, and increasing lethality through exercises and operations.
“It’s really about maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Brown said. “Each nation can pick whoever they want to partner with, and we’d like to be the security partner of choice.”
The forum challenged attendees to evaluate the “why” in PACAF’s exercises and engagements with allies and partners.
“Assessing the way we do business is tough, said Lt. Col. Andrew Cunnar, Air Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Canberra, Australia. “The answer isn’t always going to be what you want to hear but gaining insight from other service members throughout the Indo-Pacific enables us to identify ways to support our senior leaders and leverage our capabilities with partner nations.”
Attachés and SCOs meet approximately every 18-24 months to assess and plan future efforts for supporting partnership opportunities within the Indo-Pacific region.
“The SCOs and air attachés are an important interface between a particular country and the U.S. Air Force,” said Shoults. They communicate those higher headquarters objectives, exercise opportunities, and new capability requirements.”