“Our military objective is to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” says PACAF’s General Wilsbach
MANILA – General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, commander of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said to keep the Indo-Pacific region open and free, they will work with their allies and partners “because we find it extremely important that there are a number of like-minded nations around this region.”
Speaking at a teleconference hosted by the Asia Pacific Media Hub, General Wilsbach said there are a few countries against keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open.
“And who I’m talking about now is Russia, North Korea, as well as China,” he said. He added they find themselves in competition with these countries. He summed up his Command’s activities are meant to comply with the rules-based international order and international law and challenge the assertions of North Korea, Russia and China to keep the region free and open.
Asked how he views China’s military capability, General Wilsbach said it doesn’t require to be a military expert to realize Chinese military capability has made “significant improvements over the last several years.”
“And one of those is in ballistic missiles and their capability to reach out beyond the first island chain and really threaten not just us, in the second island chain or perhaps even beyond that, even to the continental United States and others of our allies and partners,” he added.
He admitted they have been watching through their intelligence collection and finding ways to defend themselves. General Wilsbach added Russia and North Korean also have significant developments in their missile capability.
The Pacific Air Force is keeping “a close eye” on all the activities of what he considers their adversaries because they use them for indications and warnings.
“When I look around the pacific and I see particularly Chinese military executing missions into the South China Sea, East China Sea, going in close proximity to islands that are claimed by other countries, when I see them executing what looks to be simulated attacks on our partners as well as our own bases, we want to have a full understanding of what that’s about,” he explained. They are monitoring the tests, acquisitions of new equipment that have been produced in their area of responsibility.
He said the United Kingdom will send its Queen Elizabeth while the French will also visit as the Germans will make their presence felt in the region. He explained these countries are interested with what China is up to in the region.
The Hawaii-based commanding officer expressed optimism that their State Department colleagues now negotiating with the Philippines for the Visiting Forces Agreement, will come up with favorable results. He explained the agreement will be the basis of their future activities in the Philippines.
“I’m confident that the two governments can come to an agreement and meet their shared interest, and their individual interests, and we’ll get to a sport where we can, we, the military, once the agreement is made, we can train together, operate together, and if called upon and directed by my bosses, execute the tenets of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT),” he added. (Melo M. Acuña)
General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, US Pacific Air Forces commander. (Asia Pacific Media Hub Photo)