JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Airmen from the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) engaged with Pacific Air Force Airmen during the first virtual and fourth annual Airmen-to-Airmen Talk (A2AT) hosted from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Dec. 15.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s A2AT with Sri Lanka did not take place in the routine face-to-face format. The meeting included subject matter experts from each country in logistics, flight safety, risk management, crisis response, cyber security and medical procedures in response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.
A2ATs enable PACAF to expand Indo-Pacific alliances and partnerships through joint discussions with partner nations. This effort is designed to help the Department of Defense work toward a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The joint discussions help PACAF build a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability, and ensuring free access to common domains.
During A2ATs, PACAF and partner nations sharpen interoperability by sharing best practices in a multitude of subject matter areas.
“Despite our inability to meet in person, I think we got a lot accomplished,” said Maj. Gen. Tyler Otten, mobilization assistant to the Pacific Air Forces commander. “My challenge to everybody on both teams is to take what we’ve talked about in the last two days and fill that roadmap out with details to get the right people together. One of the nice things of the past couple of days is that there has really been no disagreement.
“We have shared our objectives and our goals for our own Air Forces and for our own capabilities,” Otten continued. “We are in agreement about where we want to go as a partnership, which is very encouraging."
Partner nations within the A2ATs also expand their relationships through collaborative planning. The shared interests not only help reinforce regional coalitions and security cooperation.
According to the National Security Strategy, partnerships strengthen as alliances evolve, which in turn strengthens the network and makes it more capable in terms of deterring aggressors or decisively acting to meet today’s challenges.
The A2AT ended with an open discussion that allowed Airmen on both sides to gain knowledge, sharpen their understanding of the information environment and expand options that provide complimentary capabilities on both sides.
“I believe we were able to conduct the session in a very successful manner, said Air Vice Marshal HSS Thuyacontha, Director of Training, Sri Lanka Air Force. “On behalf of the Sri Lanka Air Force, I would like to express my gratitude to the head of the U.S. Air Force team Maj Gen. Otten, and all other members who enabled us to have a productive discussion throughout.”
Thuyacontha also explained that during the two-day video conference, the U.S. and Sri Lankan Air Forces were able to streamline points from the previous year’s A2AT meeting minutes as well as engage one another on current issues.
“Through the upcoming bilateral and multilateral exercises and exchanges we will be able to share our experience, knowledge, and most importantly, we’ll be able to extend our relationship between the two Air Forces,” Thuyacontha said. “I hope to have our fifth Airman to Airman Talk in person.”
Overall, by working together PACAF and its allies aim to amass the greatest possible strength for the long-term advancement of common objectives. As a result, this can help maintain favorable balances of power that deter aggression and promote peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“All of the leg work and coordination done by the overall team between our two countries is very impressive,” Otten said. “We’ve been especially successful, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, in being able to lay a path for our future where we can strengthen the partnership between our two Air Forces. Strong partners are the foundation that make the world a safer and more stable place.”