Air Force shows leadership, commitment in Dubai

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Strang
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
American Airmen showcased the capability of airpower through senior leader engagements, Airmen interactions with a global audience, and aircraft on the ground and thundering through the skies at the 2015 Dubai Airshow during the week of Nov. 11.

The Airmen are a part of a large U.S. presence as every service branch supplied both man and machine to increase and sustain relations with not only the Middle East region, but to send a message to allies around the world.

“We are here to send a visible signal of the importance of the relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States,” said Lt. Col. Allen Specht, the deputy director of theater security cooperation for U.S. Air Forces Central Command. “Collectively, the Department of Defense components provide a robust presence, which highlights our commitment to key strategic partners."

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James highlighted the importance of working with allies.

“We are here to put our best foot forward,” James said. “We need to be good role models and not only showcase our equipment, but the importance of training and interoperability with our allies.”

James, who is on a multination trip visiting Airmen in the region, said the Air Force needs allies in the fight, as one nation’s efforts cannot win a conflict alone.

“As Airmen, we know the importance and significance of what airpower can do,” she said. “It can do a lot. However, it can’t do everything. We need to work with ground forces to secure the region, and that includes our allied partners.”

The United Arab Emirates falls under the AFCENT area of responsibility. The AFCENT commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., sees firsthand the importance of working together with other nations.

“In AFCENT, we are involved with our coalition partners to include the (United Arab) Emirates,” Brown said. “They are doing great work and we have the same mindset stemming from how we train together. Each nation brings a different capability to the fight. The Air Force is committed to our partners by bringing capabilities and force enablers for mission sets that our allies may not have. We are all here to work together for peace and stability in the region.”

A part of those capabilities and force enablers include the Air Force assets showcased at the Dubai Air Show. The Air Force provided an F-15E Strike Eagle and C-130J Super Hercules as static displays, as well as performed flying demonstrations by the B-1B Lancer and F-22 Raptor.

The aircraft are AFCENT assets, which, according to Capt. James Wirthlin, a 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flight surgeon, help showcase the three AFCENT priorities: deliver airpower, defend the region and develop relationships.

“The aircraft we have on display show we can deliver airpower through many different platforms, from intelligence gathering, to strike aircraft, to cargo movement,” Wirthlin said. “It also shows that we can and will defend the region when necessary, and the fact we have all four branches of service here also showcases our will to develop relationships throughout the region.”

The airshow, which ended Nov. 12, was expected to be the largest show to date with an anticipated 1,100 exhibitors from 60 countries and 65,000 trade visitors. Over 150 aircraft are also booked to appear.

Col. Neal Oakden, the show’s commander of U.S. Air Force forces, said the event was a success from the start.

“This is a good show that has been well staffed and organized,” Oakden said. “We have received great logistics and support. The (United Arab) Emirates have been great hosts.”

Oakden said the overall goal of the U.S. presence at the air show is to support the American partners in the region.

“We are here to be a visible presence in the region,” he said. “We want to let all our allies know we are committed to them in securing peace for future generations.”