NEWS | Sept. 2, 2020

Bangladesh, US Air Forces Conduct First Virtual Airman-to-Airman Talks Together

By Capt. Christen Ornella, Capt. Christen Ornella Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen and their counterparts from Bangladesh got together, virtually this year, to hold the fourth annual Airman-to-Airman Talks (A2AT) Aug. 24-26.

A2ATs are an established avenue for two forces to enhance military-to-military relations, deepen bilateral cooperation, and increase interoperability. The U.S. and partner nation air forces conduct these engagements to plan for upcoming bilateral activities and establish partner goals.

“Both of our countries and certainly our air forces share a desire to have a free, stable, and safe Indo-Pacific region,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Tyler Otten, mobilization assistant to the commander, Pacific Air Forces. “We share those objectives and really the foundation of those objectives is our partnership. As we grow our partnership and deepen and strengthen it, it allows us to become more interoperable.”

This year, their discussion topics included C-130J interoperability, Military Personnel Exchange Program (MPEP), dissimilar aircraft training, band engagement, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR).

Before diving into specific areas of interest, the discussions were led with an overarching strategy brief to challenge the participants to ‘rethink how we think’ about the Indo-Pacific and provide insight into the future of the theater and how bilateral relations play an important role.

The teams also discussed exercise opportunities in the Indo-Pacific to establish their five-year exercise program roadmap that will include exercises, such as Cope North, Cope South, Pacific Airlift Rally, Pacific Angel and Red Flag-Alaska.

The most recent exercise the two forces participated in together was Cope South in Bangladesh, which occurred in February 2020.

Through the State Partnership Program (SPP), the Oregon Air National Guard is the State Partner to Bangladesh and works with PACAF to support bilateral engagements. The SPP links a state's National Guard with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

“I look forward to continuing this relationship and continuing to build the long-term commitment that we in the Oregon National Guard and Pacific Air Forces have with the members of the Bangladeshi air force,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Crosby, Assistant Adjutant General - Air, Oregon National Guard. “And look forward to next year and the 50th anniversary of the Bangladesh Independence Day.”

At the conclusion of the three-day engagement, Airmen on both sides of the computer screen exited the meeting with increased understanding of their counterparts’ priorities.

“I encourage all of you to engage robustly. Leverage the relationship that we generated this week and in past engagements,” Otten said. “This is the foundation from which we will grow more and more participation with each other.”

They plan to continue the conversation as they work toward meeting established goals, deepening the Bangladesh-U.S. relationship and bilateral capabilities.