NEWS | Dec. 14, 2020

U.S. Builds Partnership Capacity with Air Chiefs in Indo-Pacific

By Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, hosted senior leaders from the Indo-Pacific theater during the quarterly Pacific Air Chiefs (PAC) Video Teleconference (VTC) from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Dec. 9.

The PAC VTCs reaffirm PACAF’s commitment to multilateral allies and partners by providing regular, continuing opportunities for senior military leader dialogue. This iteration of the PAC VTC included 23 air chiefs, two of which attended for the first time: the United Kingdom and the Maldives.

“Despite the challenges associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to work at successfully strengthening our alliances and building partners,” said Wilsbach. “Our advantage in this region is having meaningful relationships and continued dialogue with our allies and partners that allows us to work together toward a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

The PAC VTCs provide an opportunity to continue high-level dialogue among air chiefs throughout the region.

“These discussions continue to strengthen partnerships and create a more networked region by giving air chiefs from across the Indo-Pacific an open forum to discuss their interests and concerns with fellow leaders,” said Maj. Ryan M. Hutton, chief of multilateral engagements, PACAF A5IP, Directorate of Plans and Requirements, International Affairs Policy.

The topic of discussion for this quarter’s VTC is: How will our Air Forces look to connect with partners and sustain a collective presence in the region in 2021 and beyond?

“This topic was suggested by Australia and New Zealand, and Australia led the discussion about this as we approach the new year,” Hutton said.

The concept of the PAC VTC came from discussions during the 2019 Pacific Air Chief Symposium (PACS 19), which is an in-person gathering of Pacific air chiefs that COMPACAF hosts here in Hawaii every two years.

“The air chiefs enjoyed the experience and requested to continue discussions on a quarterly basis in between the PACS events,” Hutton said. “The first PAC VTC was held in April, and since COVID had cancelled all travel at that time, it was an opportunity to explore a different way to virtually continue conversations between air chiefs.”

The PAC VTCs and virtual Airman-to-Airman talks at the General Officer level are just a few examples of the many PACAF engagements that have continued to occur across the region despite the challenges associated with the global pandemic.

“Key leadership events that were previously done in-person have seamlessly transition to virtual formats with great success,” Wilsbach said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to engage with my counterparts in this online forum so we can continue to share ideas and challenges and work toward collective solutions until we can all meet together in person.”