Jointness, partnership seen in C-NAF anniversary

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Chip Utterback
  • 13th Air Force commander
They say history has a funny way of repeating itself. As 13th Air Force marks a historic milestone on Oct. 6--that of its two-year anniversary as a component-numbered Air Force--I can see in our current day-to-day operations the echoes of our past, as well as the continuing promise of our future. 

Gen. George C. Kenney has long served as a historical beacon for our organization. While serving as the senior Allied air officer under Gen. Douglas MacArthur during World War II, in some of the very same places in the Pacific 13th AF operates today, he made huge strides in making our theater air operations truly joint. General Kenney understood that victory in the Pacific meant operating side-by-side with General MacArthur's forces on the ground, as well as the other armed services in the region. 

After two years leading air and space operations in the vast majority of U.S. Pacific Command's area of operations, the Airmen of 13th AF today also realize that maintaining peace in the Pacific requires a joint approach. Whether it is in our 613th Air and Space Operations Center, where nearly 100 Soldiers and Sailors live and work daily with hundreds of Airmen as a joint team to command and control airpower for most of the region, or in the far reaches of the Pacific, where the units of all services turn our strategy into reality, we understand that it takes Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines working together to bolster regional stability. 

This multi-service approach by 13th AF is only part of the story, just as General Kenney's close relationship with his fellow service members in the air, on the ground and at sea only accounts for some of his success. His approach was not only joint--it was also multi-national. General Kenney worked with the British, Australians and Dutch to beat back our nations' enemies and help bring an end to that terrible world war. 

Thirteenth AF takes a similarly international approach as it faces today's challenges in the Pacific. While the C-NAF's role is to plan, command and control, and project air and space power for the combatant commander, we understand that our friends and partners in the region drive much of our effectiveness. 

From training with our regional partners in more than 31 annual exercises in order to build one another's capabilities, to lending a hand to the people of the Pacific when disaster strikes, we know that friendship and trust are perhaps the greatest force multipliers in maintaining a stable Pacific region. The Chinese earthquake relief efforts 13th AF had the privilege of leading in May 2008 exemplify this point and demonstrate that our commitment extends beyond traditional cooperative efforts in the region. 

Our operations today are not only seen in the pages of our proud history--they are also seen in the words of our Air Force leadership today as they steer our service into the future. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz have repeatedly emphasized the importance of partnering with the joint and coalition team. Thirteenth AF's success with this multi-service and multi-national approach is of course not unique to our region. As pointed out by our secretary and chief, jointness and partnerships are the cornerstones upon which we can protect our nation and build a more peaceful world. 

As 13th AF celebrates two years as a C-NAF, I am proud to lead such an amazing organization. But perhaps more importantly, I am proud to be part of a larger team, one made up of professionals from all the U.S. armed services and from many nations throughout the region. I am proud because this joint, multi-national team is not concerned about where we each come from or what language we speak. We care only about working together to assure peace and stability for all our people.