A New Chapter for Two Air Forces
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley
Remarks at the Peace Carvin Five Detachment inauguration ceremony, Nov. 19, 2009, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
Thank you Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Teo Chee Hean for your kind remarks and your presence here today. It's an honor to meet you, and to be part of this ceremony marking such a significant occasion, both for the United States and the Republic of Singapore. I understand you just returned from a visit to your service members in Afghanistan, and I thank you for your partnership there.
Late last month, President Obama received Minister Mentor Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in Washington, with the President noting Mr. Lee was "one of the legendary figures of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries."
And, we're also pleased that Mr. Obama could visit Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit. These visits highlight the importance we attach to our relationship with Singapore, and your role in economic and security matters of mutual interest in Southeast Asia.
In addition to Mr. Teo, I'd also like thank Ms. Indranee Rajah, a member of Singapore's parliament, for being here today.
General Ng Chee Khern it is an honor to meet you as well. Your air force has been well served by your leadership, and I wish you the best as you take the next step in your career. On a more solemn note, I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of your airmen on Sunday and that two others were injured. Please know we are keeping Lieutenant Chee's family in our thoughts during this difficult time and wish a speedy recovery for your other airmen.
On a more happy note, I'm also pleased that the Chairman, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Mr. Robert Bear could be with us today. Chairman Bear, we appreciate your partnership and I'm happy you're here to celebrate this historic occasion with us.
Governor Otter, Lieutenant Governor Little, Mayors Rist, Willich, and Dale, and our civic leaders from the Mountain Home area - thank you for hosting the air forces of Singapore and the United States in such a beautiful location. We could not operate without your steadfast support, and I greatly appreciate your efforts.
General (Gary) North (Commander, Pacific Air Forces), General (Glenn) Spears (Commander of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)), and Mr. (Bruce) Lemkin (Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs) - thank you for being here. I appreciate all of the work you have done to strengthen this important partnership. And, finally, thank you, Colonel (John) Bird and the "Gunfighters" of the 336th Fighter Wing for hosting the Peace Carvin Five Detachment and this magnificent event. I know it has also been a difficult week for the Gunfighters due to the loss of one of your Airman.
Today's inauguration marks yet another step in the strong partnership between the United States and Singapore. The reactivation of the 428th Fighter Squadron - the "Buccaneers" - with the F-15SG earlier this year was a welcome event, and continues a storied history that began at Cannon AFB, N.M., with the F-111 and F-16. This squadron provides a strong complement to our F-16 teamwork at Luke AFB, Ariz., and your rotary-wing partnership with the U.S. Army in Texas and Arizona. These solid ties are evidence of the shared commitment to securing our many common security objectives.
Singapore's Global Force
It's remarkable to note the extensive involvement of the Republic of Singapore in combating the most formidable global threats of our time. Again and again, Singapore's men and women have been steadfast and reliable partners in combating maritime piracy, violent extremism, the transit of weapons of mass destruction, and human suffering caused by natural and manmade disasters.
When it mattered most, Singapore provided crucial support to international airpower efforts in Iraq with airlift and air refueling forces - I have seen Singapore's C-130s and KC-135s adorned by the black lion's head on the ramps in Southwest Asia. And, as we gather here today, Singapore's troops are participating in coalition efforts in Afghanistan.
As a partner in defense, the seamless interoperability afforded by Singapore's employment of the F-16CD, KC-135R, C-130H, AH-64D, CH-47D, and now the F-15SG, solidifies this great nation's standing as one of our most cherished partners in multinational exercises and operations. Our pilots routinely marvel at the skill and sophistication of their RSAF counterparts. And, I'm sure our mutual admiration will only increase as we both begin to field the F-35 in the not too distant future. I was especially happy to learn last week that our latest security agreement is in place, and that our partnership in this program is progressing well.
Our defense partnership is also evident in the continuous access that Singapore provides to U.S. forces as we transit the globe. From airfields to port facilities, our global reach is enabled by Singapore's cooperation and assistance.
Perhaps the most telling aspect in the long history of our partnership occurred during 2005, as the U.S. Gulf Coast struggled through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Singapore dispatched four Chinooks from its Texas unit to assist in rescue and recovery efforts aiding U.S. citizens. For this, we are especially grateful.
Integration at Mountain Home
As we take this next step in our ongoing partnership, I'm confident Mountain Home AFB will benefit your air force as it has ours. The superb resources of this base, including some of the best training ranges in the world, ample infrastructure, and a supportive local community, make this an ideal location for our combined training. We look forward to further expanding our interoperability in aviation, aircraft maintenance, and command and control.
As we develop this interoperability, we eagerly anticipate your participation at our major exercises, to include our Red Flag exercises in Nevada and Alaska, and our Combat Archer weapons system evaluation program in Florida. Finally, our partnership here in Idaho also presents a great opportunity for the citizens of Singapore and the United States to engage in cultural exchange, further enhancing the already close relationship between our nations.
This is an exciting time for our air forces, as we begin a new chapter in our continuing friendship. While our relationship with the Republic of Singapore and its air force has been strong in the past, I know the partnership here will bring us even closer together. We look forward to working toward our common objectives and training to increase our interoperability, so that when necessary, our two air forces will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of our mutual security interests.
Our shared values have brought us together for many years. As we bolster our military, social, and cultural partnerships, we will, in turn, find that we have even more in common. It is an auspicious cycle that holds great promise for our two nations, and the U.S. Air Force is proud to be a part of this partnership.
It has been an honor to be here today. Thank you very much.