U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, addresses a question regarding the future state of operations in Afghanistan asked by Tech Sgt. Steven Whitley, 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, in an All-Call Nov. 14. The general addressed the U.S. Air Force’s role in Southwest Asia, the future of Air Force manning and assets and how Airmen will be affected. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, addresses members of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing during an All-Call Nov. 14. The general addressed the U.S. Air Force’s role in Southwest Asia, the future of Air Force manning and assets and how Airmen will be affected. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Dennis, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing and Kandahar Airfield commander, introduces Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, to Col. Case Cunningham, 451st AEW vice commander, and the many members of the 451st AEW leadership Nov. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Russell Martin)
by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
11/21/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Even as the U.S. military begins a rebalance to the Pacific, the United States will not abandon Southwest Asia, Gen. Mike Hostage told a group of Airmen here Nov. 14.
Hostage, the commander of Air Combat Command, has extensive experience in the region as former commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. His visit, he said, was in part to meet with leaders of Gulf Cooperation Council countries and reassure them of U.S. military commitment to the region.
"We as a nation have a strategic national interest in the peace, security and stability of this region," he said. "We are not leaving."
Even after Operation Enduring Freedom winds down in Afghanistan, the general said, there will still be a requirement for force presence throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. This presence should include continued efforts to partner with Afghan forces, he said.
"Post-2014 there will still be a presence here, although we don't yet know what that will look like," Hostage said. "But we are rebalancing to the Pacific as an emerging strategic imperative. We are acknowledging the realities of the world in the next century."
The shift in focus is driven by the U.S. national security strategy announced in January, which indicated the U.S. would be expanding and intensifying its role in the Pacific.
"We're looking to leverage our capability in a new theater but still produce the kinds of things that our ground forces and our NATO partners have come to expect - which is instant airpower where they need it, and that eye over the battlefield so they know what their adversary is doing," he said. "It's about being present and credible in the Pacific."
The Air Force will continue to project power by being an expeditionary force, he said, noting that even as the U.S. military has drawn down overseas in the past 30 years, force presence requirements have continued to increase.
"The expeditionary nature of our force is not going to change," he said. "We are going to continue to be expeditionary as far in the future as anyone can see."
The general thanked the Airmen and their families for their role in defending freedom.
"The reason our adversaries are at bay and will remain that way is because of your choice to serve," he said. "As a parent, grandparent, and fellow warrior, I say thank you for serving."