MANILA, Philippines - A team of Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) air defense experts traveled to various air bases in the Philippines to conduct subject-matter expert exchanges with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Aug. 6-14.
The HIANG has a long-standing relationship with the PAF, and for the past six years they have been sharing air defense expertise with the PAF as they undergo enhancements to their air defense capabilities.
This year, the team featured a general officer with over 30 years of experience in air defense.
Maj. Gen. James O. Eifert, who serves as the Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), headlined a team of nine Airmen as they discussed various aspects of the air defense enterprise with their PAF counterparts.
"During high level discussions with Philippine air force Air Defense Command leadership, I was able to communicate my air defense command and control experience in both Pacific Command and U.S. Northern Command," Eifert said."I walked them through a few air defense scenarios from my experience in the Operation Noble Eagle mission, which painted the picture of how they need to think about command and control in defending the Philippine homeland."
The multifaceted nature of air defense required the team to have a wide range of expertise. Various air force specialties were represented in the group: from tracking and identification, to communications and air battle management.
"Air defense is a complex enterprise. It requires a very diverse range of skill sets to succeed," Eifert said."This HIANG team brought literally over a hundred years of combined experience in the air defense business to this engagement to share their experiences and positively shape the Philippine air force's future."
According to Eifert, the PAF is on the right track as they proceed with their air defense upgrade efforts.
"They"re motivated, have great young people ready to seize the new capabilities available to them, and have new equipment arriving with great capabilities resident in it," Eifert said."They also have strong relations with an experienced ally (U.S.) happy to help."
The expert exchange was part of the larger National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP). For more than two decades, SPP has been building relationships around the world, linking a state's National Guard with a partner nation's military or security forces to foster cooperative and mutually beneficial relations.
This iteration of the engagement - which required months of planning and had been conducted five times previously - was held at various air bases throughout the Philippines allowing for a wide range of interaction with PAF counterparts.
"This particular engagement was absolutely critical in the PAF's development of their air defense enterprise," Eifert said."The timing of this engagement gave us the opportunity to share our lessons learned from decades of air defense experience so the PAF can get theirs right the first time, and hopefully learn from our mistakes."
In addition to briefings and question and answer sessions, the team toured and surveyed various Philippine air force facilities.
The team, headlined by Eifert, included Airmen from the HIANG 169th Air Defense Squadron, 201st Air Operations Group, 204th Air Lift Squadron, and 154th Wing.
"I would like to congratulate the HIANG for offering up their best and brightest Airmen to these encounters with our close allies in the Philippines. Their efforts are helping to make tremendous strides in the PAF's ability to monitor and defend their borders." Eifert said.