Orlando, Fla. Small countries can punch above their weight by following through on commitments and knowing what capabilities and missions to focus on, said Air Vice Marshal Graham Lintott, New Zealand’s air attaché in the United States. Speaking here on Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium during the panel on building partnerships, Lintott noted that he was the sole panel member from the Asia-Pacific region. The United States’ “Pacific Pivot” has been “widely well received,” but the security dimension is just one aspect of the engagement, he said. Lintott credited the United States for its security commitments to its regional allies, but noted that many of them also have deep trade ties with China, and most countries “don’t want to have to choose” sides. Asia currently spends more money on arms than Europe, he said, and this raises the importance of networks, military-to-military diplomacy, and multilateral forums. Lintott highlighted the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus, which features the defense ministers of all the members of the Southeast Asian collective, plus key regional actors such as the United States, China, India, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The forum, begun in 2010, has “filled a void” in Asia-Pacific regional security, he said.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.