Pacific Air Forces has a big role to play in the new national defense strategy’s emphasis on “rebalancing” the US presence in the Asia-Pacific. Accordingly, PACAF is tailoring its engagement across a wide range of activities, from high-end combat exercises to civic and humanitarian engagement, said Col. Marc Caudill, PACAF’s chief of exercises, engagement, and readiness. Caudill told the Daily Report in a recent interview that PACAF engagement has three tiers: USAF support for US Pacific Command exercises; PACAF efforts focused on international cooperation and readiness, such as Cope North in Guam; and humanitarian assistance and civil-authority support like Pacific Angel activities. “We have almost 40 events a year,” he said. PACAF leadership recognizes that different countries want to engage with the United States in different ways, said Caudill. One area in which PACAF is engaging numerous countries is humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief operations, especially in the aftermath of last year’s severe earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Caudill said HA/DR cooperation on a multilateral level is proving more palatable than other types of activities, like combat exercises, to some countries in the region. “I think [HA/DR] is opening up doors,” he said.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.