In preparation for a contested near-peer environment, the U.S. Air Force is working to send forces and assets to austere locations on short notice as part of its agile combat employment concept. The service’s ability to support the greater Joint Force’s dynamic force employment will provide a range of air-related military options and quickly deployed forces when needed in response to emerging requirements. To sharpen its skills in providing a more lean, agile and lethal force that can generate airpower from smaller and more dispersed locations in the Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, the service’s Pacific Air Forces, also known as PACAF, conducted Operation Pacific Iron 21 during the month of July, ending last Friday.
U.S. Pacific Air Forces
Always strategic, the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean in Micronesia is playing a growing role in the contested, troublesome, near-peer competition environment. The Defense Department is investing more into the military facilities of this U.S. territory, including adding networking and bandwidth solutions; joint all-domain command and control; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solutions as well as additional U.S. forces. The measures will add key communications and advanced capabilities to the island as well as increase the military’s power projection abilities.
The U.S. Air Force’s shift away from continuously present bomber squadrons in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility has actually resulted in more bomber flights, reports Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF. In April, the service ended Continuous Bomber Presence missions in the Indo-Pacific Theater, which it had conducted with squadrons deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, since March of 2004.
More than 60 aircraft and 300 personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps participated in 18th Wing’s first WestPac Rumrunner exercise January 10. In addition to air tactics and joint interoperability, Airmen were tasked with ensuring continuous airpower by using tactics derived from Pacific Air Force’s agile combat employment concept of operations, or ACE.
Operating across the great distances of the Indo-Pacific region requires robust communication solutions. To meet the technological demands of airmen in the region, the U.S. Air Force, and in particular the Pacific Air Forces, are considering resilient network architecture, advanced software, battlespace command and control center solutions, new high frequency capabilities, low-earth-orbit platforms and decision-making tools, among other innovative solutions.
Col. Jeffrey R. King, USAF, has been selected for the grade of brigadier general and assigned as director, logistics, engineering and force protection, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Col. Andrew J. Toth, USAF, has been selected for the grade of brigadier general and assigned as commander, 36th Wing, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.