Social visit helps fight wars

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cynthia Spalding
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
Sixteen general officers from 16 different countries joined Pacific Air Forces leaders June 17 in their premiere multinational large force employment exercise while building partnerships with senior airpower leaders from the global community.

The hosts of this year's Red Flag-Alaska Executive Observer Program were Gen. Gary L. North, the PACAF commander, and Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, the Alaskan Command commander.

"The biggest part of having these Airmen here from around the world for Red Flag-Alaska is building partnerships and being able to expose them to the benefits of training in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex," General Atkins said.

The general also said there is a significant value to the program when a nation's senior leaders continue to come back knowing what we can offer in Alaska, and allowing members of their air force to participate in Red Flag-Alaska.

Brig. Gen. James N. Post III, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, presented the observers with a Red Flag-Alaska overview, and the observers had an opportunity to tour the RF-A operations building and a flightline tour on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

During the program, General North, as well as several executive observers, participated in presentations and discussions on how Air Force officials integrate and synchronize service capabilities, resources and effects to meet national challenges.

"From a national perspective, we can't do contingency operations independently. We have to build coalitions, and it's the strength of those coalitions that allow us to be so successful," General Atkins said. "When you can get other air forces to understand your capability and figure out what they can contribute, then you become a stronger coalition. We've proven that to ourselves from past conferences, and since the Gulf War in 1990, that coalition warfare is the way to do business."

In having other countries' senior leaders come together to socialize and learn how other forces work, it can help them develop plans and ideals on how to work together and create alliances. 

"There is a natural balance between a social setting in building friendships, and partnerships with a professional setting as well," General Atkins said.

"This week, we've seen individuals work together and share experiences that provide a unique bond. One day that bond may be the key to resolving a crisis or to remove barriers from the execution of a mission," said Chief Master Sgt. Brooke P. McLean, the PACAF command chief master sergeant.

Chief McLean also briefed the executive observers on PACAF enlisted force development.

"In building these personal partnerships, often the dividend does not come until years later," General Atkins said. "Then you can resolve the issues on a personal conduit, rather than from a national perspective. I can imagine that sometime in the future, that I may be able to pick up the phone and call one of these officers, discuss an issue and get it resolved because of the confidence that has been built between each other."