Air Force International Affairs builds partnerships to address global security challenges

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
In a finely wood-finished conference room of a historic townhouse, the assistant deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs addressed a group of students and faculty at the Mortara Center for International Studies at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., March 22.

Maj. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin Jr. discussed the need for building global partnerships as well as some of the success stories and challenges the Air Force has faced in international affairs.

“While it’s important for us to work today with the partners we have, what we’re also building are relationships that will be useful to the nation tomorrow, five years, 10 years and 20 years down the road,” Martin said.

The general shared a story about serving alongside a Royal Air Force exchange pilot during an early assignment in his career. As an aviator with combat experience in the Falklands War, Martin looked up to the British pilot for his insights.

“To me he was not 5 feet 2 inches, but 10 feet tall,” Martin said. “Because at that point, that partner of the United States had combat experience in the Falklands in 1982. To me, he was the person who had more capability and experience than I did, so we relied on his help to build our Air Force.”

Martin shared a few more of his experiences in security cooperation. While on assignment during Operation Desert Storm, Martin worked alongside Saudi Arabian airmen to deconflict air operations in the region. Martin also shared his experiences training Singaporean air force KC-135 Stratotanker units in the U.S., as well as the lessons learned from tanker operations in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Each story illustrated the opportunities for working with international partners, and the need for building partnerships and security cooperation.

“Security cooperation, even with our high-end friends, is a tenuous thing going forward,” Martin said. “But we do our mission better when we include our partners.”

Martin also used the international affairs lens to echo the top Air Force priorities articulated by the secretary of the Air Force.

“Our Air Force priorities in this increasingly complex security environment with decreasing resources are taking care of our people, balancing readiness with modernization and making every dollar count,” he said. “Not surprisingly, when talking to our partner air forces, almost all of them have priorities that look similar.”

One of the security cooperation success stories Martin reflected on was the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, which began with their acquisition of F-16 Fighting Falcons in 1998, developed over 18 years, and continues today with their participation in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“The United States Air Force’s global vigilance, global reach and global power today, demand that we have global partnerships as we go forward,” Martin said. “Our mission is to build that capacity, capability and cooperation with our partners to build national security.”