JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Pacific Air Forces hosted service members from the Sri Lanka air force for Airman-to-Airman talks here, Aug. 19-22.
The multi-day event marked the third A2A talks between the United States and Sri Lanka.
A2A talks are jointly held discussions between United States and partner nation air forces designed to bolster relations and provide an opportunity to share best practices from a variety of subject matter areas.
“The commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s objectives for this entire region is a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Maj. Gen. David Burgy, Air National Guard assistant to the PACAF commander. “In order to do that it takes partnerships and allies across the field, and that’s a lot about why we’re here today.”
Partnerships and building lasting relationships are a key focus for A2A talks.
“We want to understand each other and to build our strengths, opportunities and to see our weaknesses so we can find a solution for them,” said Sri Lanka air force Chief of Staff Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana. “My key point for this discussion today is to understand the diplomacy of the two Air Forces. How can we put our resources to engage in diplomacy and further the details of training and engagements?”
Burgy stressed the importance of making sure friendships and allies are steady now in times of peace.
“Steady, frequent, repetitive engagement is the key to building the relationships that will endure across peacetime like we have today or, if we go into a more aggressive time in the future,” said Burgy.
The A2A talks enabled four days of constructive discussions as well as personal time for people to get to know one another.
“The Airman-to-Airman talks conducted by Pacific Air Forces with nations throughout the Pacific are important for a couple reasons; number one being the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s objectives can’t happen without the allies and friends we have throughout the region,” said Burgy. “In order to make allies and friends we have to bridge the gaps we have between us.”
During the four-day visit, SLAF and U.S. Air Force senior leaders engaged in three different working groups; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, air and maritime domain awareness, and force development.
“I came with proper planning and expectations to gain benefits for both our countries during these Airman-to-Airman talks,” said Pathirana. “I came here with expectations and I am leaving here a happy person because I feel that I have met the expectations and I’m looking forward to working toward achieving the goals we have set for the next five years.”