Conflicts - TensionsFree and Open Indo-Pacific/FOIPNortheast Asia

Largest Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium enhances competitive advantages for partners

Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson/U.S. Pacific Air Forces

Committed to a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, air chiefs and senior enlisted leaders convened for the Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium 2023 (PACS 23) at the United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) headquarters at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, from November 13-16.

The symposium fosters regional security, stability, interoperability, leadership development and knowledge exchanges, while ensuring a shared understanding of challenges throughout the Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander, hosted senior leaders from 22 nations, including U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass.

PACS 23 briefings and forums emphasized the value of enduring relationships with Allies and Partners, and analyzed how combined forces succeed and are distinguished from competitors. The symposium also explored how lessons from the war in Ukraine can be applied to ensure the Indo-Pacific takes steps to prevent conflict.

“This symposium not only strengthened bonds with nations around the world, but also provided a platform to share best practices, sharpen our competitive edge, promote shared values, and ultimately reinforce security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Wilsbach said. “The challenges we face in the Indo-Pacific are more complex than ever, but we are not addressing them alone.”

Senior leaders discussed the importance of air superiority, rapid runway repair, agile combat employment and asset dispersal, among other topics related to deterring aggression through modernization, forward presence and rapid-response capabilities.

Other forums facilitated collaboration in enhancing interoperability and information sharing and developing networked security architecture.

“This does not mean the absence of disagreements, because this has never happened in history. Instead, it is about how we manage our differences — through dialogue, through mutual trust and understanding, and working constructively together where our interests lie,” said Maj. Gen. Kelvin Khong, chief of the Republic of Singapore Air Force and acting symposium dean. “During such tumultuous times, we must increase our efforts to ensure peace.”

As long-term strategic competition challenges international norms, U.S. Air Force senior leaders will continue to use events such as PACS 23 to refine ways of managing competition responsibly to prevent conflict and promote the shared values of freedom of navigation and overflight, adherence to international law, and maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“In our current era of strategic competition, it is imperative that the U.S. Air Force follows through with our Allies and Partners to enhance our competitive advantage and secure common interests,” Allvin said. “That is exactly what I came here to do, and I’m fully confident we achieved that goal.”

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