SECAF visits PACAF Airmen, emphasizes Air Force priorities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall toured the U.S. Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility Aug. 17-25 to emphasize the strategic priority of advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

During his tour, Kendall reinforced the National Defense Strategy tenet of deterring aggression, while being prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary, prioritizing the importance of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater.

Kendall met with Airmen from Hickam Air Force Base; Andersen AFB, Guam; Yokota Air Base, Japan; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; and Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia. At each stop he communicated his strategic priorities of enabling, employing and projecting combat power in the Indo-Pacific.

“In a region which features our pacing challenge, we need to achieve deterrence integrated alongside our allies and partners as one team, one total force,” Kendall said during his visit to Hickam AFB. “Our ability to stay ahead of our potential competitors will come down to the strength of our entire force and I heard a lot about how that teamwork is being carried out here at Hickam.”

As Hickam AFB was Kendall’s first stop during his multi-day tour, he had the chance to speak to Airmen of all ranks about the 15th Wing’s top priorities of posturing for conflict in the Indo-Pacific, strengthening partnerships and evolving wing combat capabilities.

“Meeting with Airmen to have informal conversations leaves me inspired by their dedication to service and commitment to mission,” Kendall reflected. “Most importantly, they share insights into problems they are experiencing and how those problems interfere in their primary duties. It’s a chance for me to listen, hear what matters most and take action.”

While the 15th Wing visit focused on rapid global mobility throughout the Indo-Pacific, the visit to Andersen AFB prioritized the need to develop multi-capable Airmen, cultivate regional and local partnerships, and project airpower while expanding combat capabilities.

“The Pacific is and always has been a power projection theater and Andersen Air Force Base sits at the Forward Edge,” Kendall explained. “Foundational to that power projection is our ability to provide air superiority for the Joint Force; it is the bedrock on which all other services build their operational effects.”

After Kendall lauded Andersen AFB Airmen for being front and center in executing some of the U.S. Air Force’s most significant and consequential operations, the next stop of his tour allowed him to visit a similar strategic location where Airmen protect U.S. interests – Yokota AB.

The U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security continues to serve as the foundation of a six-decade-long alliance and sets an example of integrated deference providing peace, security and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“Yokota is vital to maintaining our relationships with Japan and several countries in the area through numerous exercises and engagements across the entire AOR,” Kendall said. “Together with Japan, we are committed to modernizing the alliance, strengthening joint capabilities, and aligning strategies to address evolving security challenges in an integrated manner.”

Kendall recognized Yokota Airmen, while acknowledging the ironclad U.S.-Japan Alliance.

Kendall’s tour in Japan took him to separate office meetings with Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander; Japan’s Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Kiyoshi Odawara; and Minister of National Space Policy Secretariat Takayuki Kobayashi. During the meetings, he stressed the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

“When I talk about “one team, one fight,” it is more than just the service branches or even the U.S. government working together, but also about incorporating our allies and partners,” Kendall said. “We need to work with Japan to modernize our capabilities together. Accelerating change and building on our partnership will allow us to prepare for any fight we may have to face.”

Kendall wrapped up his trip by visiting the “last frontier” at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he stressed the importance of agile combat support, putting family first, and cultivating culture on the arctic front.

“I can’t stress enough how our mission relies on a 100% effort from every Airman and Guardian,” Kendall emphasized. “Our families provide a strong support system that keep our Airmen and Guardians going. Families are vital to ensuring our Airmen and Guardians are prepared to ensure mission success.”