Building Upon the Foundation

Long before talk of rebalancing the US military to the Asia-Pacific region, the Air Force recognized the importance of presence and engagement there, said the panel of retired four-star generals at AFA’s Pacific Air & Space Symposium. “I don’t think it has been an accident in the last several years that the Air Force has postured as it has in the Pacific region,” said retired Gen. Howie Chandler, former vice chief of staff who led Pacific Air Forces from November 2007 to August 2009. It is “notable to highlight the fact that the Air Force has its premier capabilities already resident in the Pacific theater—C-17s, F-22s,” said retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, former Chief of Staff, at the same Nov. 22 discussion in Los Angeles. Retired Gen. Bill Begert, PACAF boss from May 2001 to July 2004, said Air Force engagement, like high-end joint exercises, has paid big dividends since 9/11. Maintaining the investment in such exercises and other types of outreach will be critical “if the Pacific is, in fact, to achieve what we want it to be,” said retired Gen. Paul Hester, PACAF commander from July 2004 to November 2007.