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Pacific Air Forces commander talks operations, opportunities in theater

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lesley Waters
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency Operating Location -- Pentagon
The Pacific Air Forces top leader described the challenges and opportunities of securing U.S. and allied interests in the Pacific Sept. 18 here.

As the nation rebalances military forces to this part of the world, Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle said airpower, strengthening partnerships and Airmen are keys to mission success.

"The theater in of itself defines the strengths and attributes of airpower of speed, range and flexibility," he said at the Air Force Association's 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition. "What we have been doing out there for six decades is provide that stability to our friends, neighbors and partners in the Asia-Pacific area and ensure access to the area."

The PACAF commander acknowledged the operational challenge within his command.

"Operationally our theater is about 8,000 by 9,000 miles," Carlisle said. "The term we often use is our theater goes from Hollywood to Bollywood and from penguins to polar bears."

Carlisle outlined the five lines of operation in the PACAF area of responsibility: theater security cooperation, integrated air and missile defense, power projection, agile and flexible command and control and caring for the resilient Airmen.

"These five lines of operation in PACAF are what we have to do to get to the end states -- posture for contingency operations, ensure stability and free access, deter aggression and defend U.S. interests," Carlisle said.

Building relationships that promote U.S. interests is part of theater security cooperation, which is the first line of operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Carlisle also said part of security cooperation is building allied and friendly capabilities for self-defense and coalition operations and maintaining a U.S. military presence during peacetime and contingency operations.

The second line of operation, he said, is integrated air and missile defense. He broke it into three pillars -- tactical operations, active defense and passive defense.

"Passive defense is something we probably haven't thought about enough lately because we haven't felt like we faced the threat as much lately," the general said. "Passive defense is everything from concealment, camouflage, deception to airfield damage repair..."

The third line of operation is power projection.

"It is global vigilance, global reach, global power in the Pacific where we need it, when we need it and how we need to get it there," he said.

Besides integrated air and missile defense, Carlisle worries about agile and flexible command and control the most.

"In the past 20 plus years for the Air Force, everything more than about eight feet above the ground we've owned, so we haven't been denied," he said. "We're going to be denied (communications). We're going to be targeted in (communications). We're going to have cyber attacks. We're going to have problems. So our ability to have an agile, flexible C2 to meet the need of the war fighter is critical."

The final line of operation is the resilient Airmen.

"The reason we're the greatest air force in the world today is because of the Airmen we are incredibly fortunate to have in our Air Force," Carlisle said. "They are phenomenal."

It is important to take care of them (the Airmen and their families) and grow them into being bold and innovative leaders, he said.

"It is important how we build and take care of our Airmen to keep the incredible quality we have today and make it even better; to make the resilient Airmen, the critical enabler," Carlisle said.