Gen. Paul Hester, commander of Pacific Air Forces, told attendees Thursday afternoon at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium that focusing on the Pacific is important because of the high rate of conflict there and the fact that 60 percent of the world’s population lives in that area of responsibility. From the Philippine fight against terrorists to Bangladesh’s failing democracy, “peace and stability has not come,” Hester said. He believes the United States must look toward the Pacific in this century; he sees a big opportunity for the Air Force to use leadership skills, platforms, and strategic thinking to change the unstable conditions there. Hester told the Orlando audience that the current US Pacific Command is a new PACOM—“it’s not your father’s PACOM” nor does it resemble the PACOM of his own past. However, he would like to see more of a NATO-type atmosphere of meetings and dialogue in the Pacific region. (See below.)
The Air Force pointed out numerous operational and programmatic effects from Congress' inability to approve fiscal 2022 funding. These include hits to programs already underway as well as 16 new starts, plus seven military construction projects. Readiness also is suffering because the funding limits maintenance and exercises.