By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Franks, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published November 12, 2015
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force’s International Affairs deputy shared why building global air force partnerships through integrating political-military relationships, security assistance, technology and information disclosure issues ensures relationships endure during an Air Force Association monthly breakfast Nov. 10.
Allies and coalition partners from around the world listened while Maj. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin Jr. tied shrinking budgets, natural disasters and asymmetric threats to the necessity of building partnerships – not only for the immediate threats the world faces, but also to prepare for future threats as well.
“We believe the best way we can successfully take on these challenges is by building global partnerships, because we are stronger together,” Martin said. “Building the relationships needed for today’s challenges takes time, diligence, effort and persistence -- a commitment to preparation in the advance of possible threats.”
Today, the Air Force has more than 1,500 international Airmen working security cooperation activities. They serve as air attachés, regional affairs specialists, political affairs strategists, air advisors, combat aviation advisors, instructors, international health specialists and other critical roles around the globe.
“While our senior leaders and diplomats cement the formal relationship with our partners, it’s these international Airmen who forge the personal relationships with partner nation Airmen, taking the one-on-one, daily actions that result in real, enduring partnerships,” Martin said.
One of Martin’s examples was how we are currently fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Twelve partner nations are currently participating in combat operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Coalition Airmen have collectively flown more than 61,000 sorties, including 7,800 airstrikes, in support of operations in Iraq and Syria.
“I want to emphasize that a strong coalition like the one currently fighting ISIL takes time and effort to develop,” Martin said. “Our partners had to take deliberate action before participating in the coalition.”
According to Martin, training and exercising with partners is a vital part of building a team. Through total force integration, the Air Force uses the Air National Guard to provide pilot training to coalition partner pilots. Every year more than 18 international partners participate in Red Flag exercises in Nevada and Alaska and exercises are encouraged amongst allies to respond whenever necessary.
“As we continue down the path toward building strong global partnerships, we are going to need our international Airmen more than ever,” Martin said. “It’s the trust knowing that your teammates will do everything in their power not let each other down.”