JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Throughout fiscal 2013, the key aspect of Pacific Air Forces was engagement as more than 45,000 Pacific Air Forces Airmen conducted a broad spectrum of operations, from humanitarian relief to decisive combat employment, in an area covering 13 time zones and 100 million square miles.
These operations began with the inactivation of 13th Air Force and the operationalization of the Headquarters PACAF Staff, as the Air Force established its benchmark component major command (C-MAJCOM). This unified structure gives PACAF dual focus: support to an operationalized staff across the range of military operations and performance of mandated duties of organizing, training, and equipping Airmen.
Throughout the year, PACAF Airmen expanded engagements, increased combat capability and improved warfighter integration by participating in more than 25 exercises and humanitarian operations throughout the region.
"Engagement is something we are doing every day across the Asia-Pacific region," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces. "I cannot overstate the importance of working with our allies, partners and the international community to deter aggression and to maintain peace and stability in the region."
Operation Pacific Angel is an example of PACAF's expanded engagements, as more than 275 PACAF Airmen and joint service members joined host nation military and civilian forces, multilateral military, and non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam to promote regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief interoperability.
The PACANGEL engagements included medical, dental, optometry, and engineering programs, as well as various subject-matter expert exchanges. More than 22,000 total patients were cared for in these countries and 15 structures such as schools or medical clinics were built or refurbished during these operations.
"Partnering in operations such as Pacific Angel enhances our ability to work together and effectively respond to humanitarian disaster relief and international peacekeeping operations," said Lt. Col. Keith Gibson, commander of Pacific Angel 13-2, from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Increased combat capability was another focus this year, as exercises such as Red Flag Alaska involved more than 110 aircraft and the participation of more than 5,200 personnel from the U.S. Air Force active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marines, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Three Red Flag multinational exercises occurred this year. The two week-long tactical air combat exercises replicated the stress warfighters face during their first 10 combat sorties of a conflict.
Expanding engagements as well as theatre security cooperation was also evident in early February as Cope North was in full swing. Participants from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force focused on Large Force Employment scenarios, which enhanced the interoperability of 15 different airframes.
"During Cope North, we are able to facilitate an environment, in coordination with our international partners, which allows us to share information to decision makers," said Lt. Col. Michael Erickson, 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron commander. "This provides those on the ground and in the air the best possible situational awareness."
Besides exercises, multi-national leadership visits and exchanges also increased the situational awareness and solidified partnerships. Lt. Gen. Cha-Kyu Choi, Republic of Korea, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, visited PACAF headquarters in November to discuss ways to further improve support and cooperation between our nations' air forces.
Another significant meeting was the first-ever Medical Acupuncture and Battlefield Medicine Subject Matter Expert Exchange in Beijing, China Oct. 21-27. U.S. Air Force medical physicians attended at the invitation of China's People Liberation Army to help U.S.-China militaries increase mutual trust and understanding while sharing practices in traditional Chinese medicine.
In addition, General Carlisle hosted a 14-member Chinese People's Liberation Army of China delegation as part of an agreed upon reciprocal visit between Chinese and American military officers. During their visit, the Chinese officers received a briefing from General Carlisle on PACAF's priorities, and toured a C-17 Globemaster III.
The year closed with General Carlisle representing PACAF along with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, meeting with People's Liberation Army Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Li Chunchao, in Beijing, China, Sept. 24. The U.S. Air Force leaders visited with various military leaders in China as well as tour the Chinese Air Force Aviation Medicine Research Institute as part of a weeklong trip.
Working with our allies and partners to expand engagement is crucial to PACAF's responsibilities in the Department of Defense's largest area of responsibility.
Throughout this past fiscal year and into the next, PACAF has and will continue to work together with established allies and partners, to help build their confidence, improve combined interoperability, disrupt proliferation and provocations, and solidify joint access during contingencies and/or for throughput to critical locations across the Asia-Pacific region.