PACAF commander visits Osan

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Gen. Paul V. Hester, Pacific Air Forces commander, visited Osan Monday for the 7th Air Force change-of-command ceremony. While he was here, the MiG Alley Flyer had a chance to sit down with him for a question and answer session.

Are there any positive things you have seen that have been implemented PACAF wide and submitted to be used Air Force wide? 

Well, that's an interesting question. I don't think you can pick any one individual item. I think what you see is that across the Air Force we are constantly changing. We take the issues we find in any one individual assignment and start taking them and migrating them to new places. 

For example, as you well know, everyone on the Korean peninsula is here for one or two years so consequently we have a constant influx of wonderful ideas that come to us every year. Those young Airmen infuse those ideas into Osan and Kunsan and make them their own to fit this envionment. Then they learn and mature those ideas and take them when they go. 

Clearly, what comes out of the Korean peninsula though is an insistence to be Ready to Fight Tonight. That, in fact, is the type of readiness that is infused from this peninsula to the rest of the Air Force. So if there is one thing, it is that insistence to be ready to go to combat tonight.

How is or will Force Shaping affect Osan and Kunsan? 

I don't think that there is anything specific about Osan or Kunsan than those bases in Japan or Hawaii and those all across the Air Force. Force Shaping is going to shape our force with the right number of people that Congress is going to approve for us, and that's roughly 310,000. 

And then the shaping in terms of how many people are going to reside in each of our AFSCs is going to be represented at each one of our locations. 

So yes, Osan and Kunsan will be impacted by not only the draw down of 40,000 people, but also the force shaping across AFSCs no different than any of our other bases in the Air Force. But as you know we provide a higher fill out rate of our jobs here on the Korean peninsula, about 95 percent.

For the longest time, the end strength in Korea was 37,000 servicemembers. Now that number continues to decline each year. How will the Air Force personnel decrease proportional to the Army? 

Well, we won't really decrease proportionate to the Army's manning. We have had very small portions of our units move off the peninsula. 

While our Army brethren have decreased by 12,500 in the past year, we will not see that kind of draw down of the Air Force Airmen stationed here.

You're going to be in Korea serving holiday meals to the troops later this month. What would you like to say to them? 

I look forward to talking to them on Thanksgiving Day. Like them, even though I'm in Hawaii, I will be far away from my home. I'm from Mississippi, my wife is from Texas, and we won't be with our families either. So we enjoy coming out here to share with our Air Force family the tradition of Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving for all the blessings we have been given as a nation and blessings we have been given as individuals. We celebrate those with our blood brothers and our Air Force.

What would you like to say to the Airmen stationed in Korea about being prepared? 

Being Ready to Fight Tonight is clearly the mantle on how people focus on the mission here, and I think that is such a wonderful expression about being ready. It means when you get up in the morning, you are ready to go because last night has past and the next night is coming and we want to be ready to take the fight north if in fact that eventuality ever comes. 

What I think is important is that America is in fact at war today. We are at war in the Global War on Terror, and we are in an Armistice here on the peninsula, ready to return to the fight if necessary. 

I think our Airmen need to know how important they are to both of those issues.