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Global chiefs discuss air power

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Sept. 16, 2003) -- More than 90 air power leaders from around the world convened here to interact with each other, members of Congress, national dignitaries, industry leaders and diplomats.

The last Global Air Chiefs Conference, held in Las Vegas in 1997, was during the Air Force's 50th anniversary. This year's conference was called in recognition of the 100th anniversary of powered flight, said forum moderator Willard H. Mitchell, former deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs.

First to address the air chiefs was Air Marshal Jonah Domfa Wuyep, the air staff chief for the Nigerian air force. He provided an African perspective on security cooperation. Wuyep's said that Africa may be the "weakest link" in the war on terrorism.

"The basic reason for Africa being the weakest link is that there is a lack of capacity in most countries' militaries to effectively contribute more than men to any peacekeeping operations," Wuyep said.

Even then, Wuyep said, African nations often lack an ability to provide those men with proper military training. He asked that larger military nations be more aware of the fact.

Wuyep also addressed the emergence of multilateralism after the fall of the Soviet Union.

"The disappearance of the Soviet Union as a superpower and the emergence of many sovereign states gave a flip to the shift toward multilateralism in world affairs," he said.

The 1991 Gulf War, the Balkans and East Timor are examples of successes achieved by multilateral partnerships, according to Wuyep.

Air Chief Marshall Kaleem Saadat, the air staff chief for the Pakistani air force, also spoke. He began by echoing a sentiment expressed earlier by Wuyep on the growing gap between American airpower and that of its closest allies.

"Even within the developed world," Saddat said, "the airpower capability of the United States overshadows all other developed nations."

Saddat also spoke about the relationship between Pakistan and the United States before and after Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Pakistani - American relations, which (have) had (their) fair share of ups and downs and after 1990 had been on a downward spiral, experienced a sudden and remarkable upswing," Saadat said. "Despite domestic opposition based partly on religious sentiments, as Afghanistan is a fellow Muslim country, Pakistan has remained a steadfast ally (of the United States)."

The GACC, which is being held in conjunction with the 2003 Air Force Association Conference, will feature other presentations by air power leaders. Those presentations will feature topics like the future of combined combat and combat training, Persian Gulf regional issues, coalition warfare, small country expeditionary force perspectives and the diversification of the Japan air self defense force mission.