Gen. Paul Hester, commander of Pacific Air Forces, has told Air Force leaders that, if PACAF gains Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, he would prefer to station one squadron on the Korean peninsula and one at either Hawaii or Guam, according to a senior USAF official. So far, however, US Central Command requirements have been so voracious that all available Predators go there. Still, Hester believes the missions in the Pacific justify installing some Predator units. For one thing, the Pacific theater has seen most of the biggest humanitarian crises in the last few years and having some Predators available to deal with tsunami relief or mudslides would be advantageous. The senior official noted that Predators are “enormously useful” for such work.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.