Engagement Key to Pacific Presence

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.