JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Major Gen. James Eifert, Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), addressed the importance of partnership and integration at the 2018 Colombo Air Symposium in Attidiya, Sri Lanka, Oct. 19, 2018.
This year’s theme, “Air Strategy in Substantiating the Geo-Strategic Importance of Sri Lanka”, drew military leaders, technical experts, global think tanks, and diplomats from more than 25 nations to discuss and address common challenges.
“This symposium provides an important venue for a diverse group of global representatives to think, discuss and challenge key issues of air strategy,” Eifert said in his speech to attendees. “I hope that we can leverage our collective expertise to consider how best to deter aggression, maintain security and stability throughout the region, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support.”
While U.S. presence has been critical to stability and security in the region, Eifert detailed PACAF’s and its partners’ long history in providing assistance through decades of natural disaster response. The unique capabilities airpower provides to humanitarian crises culminated in highlighting the ongoing relief efforts in Indonesia following its devastating earthquake and tsunami last month.
“Air transport remains the top humanitarian assistance and disaster relief priority, and demonstrates how regional threats require rapid, flexible airpower capabilities,” Eifert said. “The sheer size of the region, coupled with the complex security challenges, absolutely requires a multilateral and collaborative approach.”
During his speech Eifert stressed the importance of freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our vision for the Indo-Pacific excludes no nation. We seek to partner with all nations that uphold a foundation of mutual respect, responsibility, priorities, and accountability… Our aim is for all nations to live in a free and open Indo-Pacific region with prosperity and security for all.
“Advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific means ensuring the freedom of the seas and skies,” Eifert said. “In an increasingly interdependent global economy, we share an interest in utilizing air assets to provide continued security at sea….Together, we can improve our collective maritime domain awareness, maximize the effectiveness of limited resources in a large area of operation, and reduce the prospect of enduring maritime challenges.”
Eifert concluded his remarks with praise for the symposium; the fourth hosted by the Sri Lanka Air Force since 2015.
“This symposium shows Sri Lanka’s openness to nations with shared interests and facilitates its convening power in the region. We commit to joining forces with nations that share our values, interests, and concerns in order to meet the challenges of the region. The U.S., our allies, and partners look forward to continuing our partnership with Sri Lanka and like-minded nations to promote the rules-based international order, ensuring a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific for generations to come.”