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A year in command of Airmen in the priority theater

Gen. Ken Wilsbach Official Photo

Gen. Ken Wilsbach Official Photo

U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander, Pacific Air Forces, shown here in the orange flight suit near the bottom, passes through ceremonial side-boys aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), May 10, 2021, in the Gulf of Alaska during Exercise Northern Edge 2021 (NE21). NE21 is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed to sharpen the joint forces' skills; to practice tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control, and communication relationships; and to develop cooperative plans and programs. Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members are participating in a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces May 3-14, 2021, on and above the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska, and temporary maritime activities area. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Juan J. Ruiz-Lazcano)

U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander, Pacific Air Forces, shown here in the orange flight suit near the bottom, passes through ceremonial side-boys aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), May 10, 2021, in the Gulf of Alaska during Exercise Northern Edge 2021 (NE21). NE21 is one in a series of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercises designed to sharpen the joint forces' skills; to practice tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control, and communication relationships; and to develop cooperative plans and programs. Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members are participating in a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces May 3-14, 2021, on and above the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Gulf of Alaska, and temporary maritime activities area. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Juan J. Ruiz-Lazcano)

Aircraft from the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force and a B-52 Bomber from Barksdale Air Force base conduct integrated joint air operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Groups are conducting dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Stephens)

Aircraft from the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force and a B-52 Bomber from Barksdale Air Force base conduct integrated joint air operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Groups are conducting dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Stephens)

Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach receives his first salute as Pacific Air Forces’ newest commander during a Change of Command Ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 8, 2020. Prior to taking the command at PACAF, Wilsbach served as the Commander, 7th Air Force and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. Other assignments included, Commander, Alaskan Region, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Commander, Alaskan Command, U.S. Northern Command and Commander, 11th Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux)

Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach receives his first salute as Pacific Air Forces’ newest commander during a Change of Command Ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 8, 2020. Prior to taking the command at PACAF, Wilsbach served as the Commander, 7th Air Force and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. Other assignments included, Commander, Alaskan Region, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Commander, Alaskan Command, U.S. Northern Command and Commander, 11th Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux)

Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach salutes Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as he assumes command of Pacific Air Forces from Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. during a Change of Command Ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 8, 2020. As the 36th COMPACAF, Wilsbach now oversees approximately 46,000 Airmen, serving principally in Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux)

Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach salutes Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as he assumes command of Pacific Air Forces from Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. during a Change of Command Ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 8, 2020. As the 36th COMPACAF, Wilsbach now oversees approximately 46,000 Airmen, serving principally in Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux)

Photo of the Commander of Pacific Air Forces

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Lara, 25th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller instructor, smiles underneath his mask during a conversation with U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, April 23, 2021. The visit was organized to enable Wilsbach to further sharpen his understanding of the 25th ASOS� capabilities to provide joint all-domain command and control at a tactical level from the edge of the battlespace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

A fighter aircraft flies over Hawaii.

An F-22 Raptor assigned to the 19th Fighter squadron flies over Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, March 31, 2021. Two C-130J Super Hercules flew alongside two F-22 Raptors to allow aircrew from the 41st Airlift Squadron to exercise combat capabilities they would see if the aircraft were to come under attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

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German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer tours a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortess at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 28, 2021. During her visit she toured military facilities across Guam and met with U.S. service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)

Chief's Orientation Course photo

U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, addresses chief master sergeants and chief master sergeant selects during Pacific Air forces Chief’s Orientation Course held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 12, 2021. Wilsbach talked about why the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility is the Department of Defense’s priority theater. The course also had guest speakers from a multitude of career fields and functional areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux)

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U.S. Army E3 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense soldiers and deployed Bomber Task Force U.S. Airmen, pose for a photo in front of a THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system during a U.S. Army led tour on North West Field at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 12, 2021. The THAAD mission is to protect the homeland, deployed military forces, friends, and allies from short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles. The BTF was deployed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility to meet Pacific Air Forces training objectives. PACAF in coordination with other components, allies, and partners, provides USINDOPACOM with continuous unrivaled air, space, and cyberspace capabilities to ensure regional stability and security. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and an F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, fly over Denali National Park, Alaska, Aug. 17, 2020. The 388th FW's F-35As made their debut in RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 training alongside F-35As from the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)
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An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and an F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, fly over Denali National Park, Alaska, Aug. 17, 2020. The 388th FW's F-35As made their debut in RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 training alongside F-35As from the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Photo of an aircraft taking off
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A B-52H Stratofortress bomber from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, lifts-off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam during a Bomber Task Force deployment May 7, 2021. This mission was in support of Northern Edge 21. The BTF was deployed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility to meet Pacific Air Forces training objectives. Readiness and resilience of the PACAF protects the homeland, deters aggression, and ensures the command’s ability to fight and win if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

A C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, sits at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. It is one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided support to the USAP since 1955. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Tyler Boyd)
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A C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, sits at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze. ODF is unlike any other U.S. military operation. It is one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment. The U.S. military is uniquely equipped and trained to operate in such an austere environment and has therefore provided support to the USAP since 1955. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Tyler Boyd)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

A year ago, I had the honor and privilege of accepting the guidon to become the 36th Pacific Air Forces commander. Since that day, it’s been thrilling to watch Airmen and Guardians perform at extremely high levels every day to accomplish our mission under some very challenging circumstances in the priority theater.

As I look back, I think about how COVID-19 has touched every facet of our lives and mission, and continues to challenge us today. Yet without fail, you faced every obstacle and found a way to continue to defend America’s interest here in the Pacific theater by executing the objectives of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in support of the National Defense Strategy.

The biggest factor to the command’s success is the more than 61,000 Airmen, Guardians, civilians, and families who make up the PACAF team. Each of you play a critical role in how we integrate joint force air, space and cyberspace capabilities to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific. The command isn’t a command without the people, and in my time here I can say we have the best people. I’m grateful and thankful for each and every one of you.

When I took command, I laid out four priorities – diversity, readiness, innovation, and lethality – to focus our efforts. Across 16 time zones, 36 nations, 60 percent of the world’s population and thousands of languages, PACAF Airmen in three numbered Air Forces and nine installations executed those priorities and delivered unrivaled airpower anytime, anywhere. Dedicated people focusing on the mission can achieve anything!

Another important factor to our success is our allies and partners in the region who share a common vision for the theater. You will hear me frequently speak about the list of allies and partners who want to work with us compared to our competitors. We are the partner of choice, and our success will be measured in the allies and partners we’re privileged to work alongside to keep a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The last year also required all of us to have a united focus against near-peer competitors to protect our homeland, deter aggression and be ready to fight tonight. PACAF Airmen flew thousands of sorties and executed kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities in all domains with our joint teammates and allies and partners in exercises, exchanges and operations to protect the international rules-based order and guard our national interests. That will be remain our focus as we go forward.

As I look to the next year in command, I’m excited about what is on the horizon. If you haven’t read the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s “Accelerate Change or Lose” and the subsequent action orders – A, B, C, D – you’re behind the power curve. These documents will guide how we execute the command’s mission, vision and priorities amid great power competition with near peers.

I challenge everyone in the command to figure out how to use each of the action orders to accelerate change in the command. I’m most interested in Action Order Bravo – Bureaucracy, and using it to speed up decision-making and improve effectiveness in the command.

If you find opportunities to make things better by reducing bureaucracy, do so. If you need to elevate it to get resolution, do so. I made a commitment to all my commanders that they will find a receptive ear if they can find a better way to do our mission by eliminating bureaucracy. I make the same commitment to each Airmen and Guardian in PACAF. It is my firm belief that if we reduce bureaucracy, we will find the space for innovation and in turn take better care of Airmen, Guardians and their families.

Finally, I need everyone in the command to get familiar with Agile Combat Employment concepts. ACE is how we will fight in this theater. Multi-capable airmen will use networks of well-established and austere air bases, and leverage pre-positioned equipment and airlift, to deploy, disperse and maneuver combat capability around the theater to create dilemmas for our competitors. I need everyone to be ready to do their part in ACE.

I am honored to serve with each and every one of you and thank you and your families for all you do. Here is to another great year living and working in the priority theater.