PACAF boss speaks at AFA conference, emphasizes importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific

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

Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, spoke to several audiences about the readiness and resiliency of PACAF forces during the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor Sept. 19.

Wilsbach provided remarks as one of three panelists for a “Preparing for Global Competition” presentation, hosted a media roundtable on “Defending the Indo-Pacific Theater,” and hosted a think tank.

“Regarding China, I mentioned at our last conference that I am watching them like a hawk, and that posture has not wavered,” said Wilsbach, a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours in a slew of fighter aircraft. “In fact, now more than ever, Indo-Pacific Allies and partners are resolute in their collective defense of a free and open region.”

Wilsbach explained why the topic of strategic competition recently shifted into even greater focus.

“Last month, we all saw the way the PRC [People’s Republic of China] overreacted to a single politician talking to another politician, and I personally found the response to be unreasonable and destabilizing,” Wilsbach noted. “The PRC used a peaceful dialogue between democratically elected leaders as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.”

Wilsbach described the best way for PACAF to navigate the continuously changing security environment while maintaining peace in the region.

“We do it through deterrence and preparation, and it is important to highlight that one of our greatest methods of deterrence involves ensuring that we would not be doing so alone,” Wilsbach said. “In fact, during our recent exercise Pitch Black, we trained alongside 16 other countries as part of a large force employment event.”

Overall, Wilsbach emphasized his desire to fulfill the United States’ commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability while resisting any use of force or coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan.

“We prepare and stand ready for anything that poses a threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Wilsbach said. “We will defend our interests without flinching and we’ll work toward our vision for this region — one of expanding security, one of increased cooperation, and not one of growing division.”