U.S Department of State
Special Briefing via Telephone
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General David L. Goldfein
June 17, 2019
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Air Force conference call. At this time all participants are in listen only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. If you should require assistance during the call please press star then zero as a reminder this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Yasmeen Hibrawi. Please go ahead.
Moderator: Thank you. Good morning to everyone from the U.S. Department of State’s Global Public Affairs. I would like to welcome our participants dialing in and thank all of you for joining this discussion. Today we are very pleased to be joined by Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General David L. Goldfein who will discuss the upcoming Conference of American Air Chiefs in El Salvador. General Goldfein will discuss the upcoming conference that will include participation of 21 nations across the Western Hemisphere. We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from General Goldfein then we will turn to your questions. We will try to get to as many of them as we can during the time that we have, which is approximately 30 minutes. At any time during the call if you would like to ask a question you must press star one on your phone to join the question and answer queue. As a reminder, today’s call is on the record, and with that I will turn it over to General Goldfein.
General Goldfein: Well thank you so much. And gracias, thank you all for taking the time to talk today about this important conference that we’re having and the importance of the partnerships that we have here in the Western Hemisphere. I’m here with the Lieutenant General Andrew Croft who’s my 12th Air Force Commander in the Air Force and Southern Command Commander. One of the ways that we show our partners the importance of our partnership is based on who we place in command here. Andrew Croft, I will tell you, is one of our premiere war fighters having just come out of leading the campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and so he’s well versed in the business has got just a great reputation so I’m honored to be here with him. So the next few days we’re going to gather with our North Central and South American Air Chiefs here in El Salvador. And I’m also really honored to be cohosting this with Manuel Calderon who is, I will tell you, is well respected and admired across all of the Air Chiefs and so being able to host this side by side with him is quite an honor for me and I think together we’re going to look for ways to really hone our cooperative efforts with allies and partners. One of the organizations that will be focused on is the system of cooperation among the American Air Forces or we call it SICOFAA. That is primarily focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and has been very successful in supporting the Haiti operation and other operations that we’ve been engaged in together and future in furthering our common interests. Because this is all about partnerships and it’s about partnerships here in this hemisphere among neighbors. So looking at interoperability building partner capacity, this extensive engagement which is really guided by these interests reflects our enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity within the Americas. And so I’m honored to be here. And I look forward to your questions.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen if you’d like to ask a question please press star then one.
Moderator: So I do have a question that has come in previously so I’ll just state the question now. What types of engagements, exercises or exchanges are you involved in with other Air Chiefs in the Western Hemisphere?
General Goldfein: I’ll tell you that just the recent deployment of the USS Comfort into the region is one that while focused on the U.S. Navy, I’ll tell you that we work this as a joint team and as a Joint Chief I work especially with the Chief of Naval Operations to make sure they have all the support they need to bring this kind of capability here into the region. And many of our exercises are intended to ensure that we have not only common objectives and mutual interests, but that also we continue to have the winning narrative in the region because we know that there are other narratives and competition primarily coming in from China and Russia and we want to make sure that our narrative is strong.
And with that let me let me ask General Croft if you want to add anything from this perspective.
General Croft: Thanks, sir. Specifically for the Air Force, we engage with the nations that you just mentioned in many fashions. One is exercises where we do air exercises together whether it’s with fighters or a transport aircraft. We do military education and training, we do exchanges. The folks in the nations and Central and South America will come into the U.S. and vice versa. So those exchanges are enduring and probably one of our greatest points of strength over the years. And then we do joint exercises as well as the Chief just mentioned with the Army with the Navy and with the Marines and our Special Operations in the entire region to build that narrative of making the U.S. Department of choice. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Operator will you take the next question?
Operator: You have a question from your line of Stephen Losey. Please go ahead.
Question: Hi General Goldfein, thanks for talking to us. Can you talk a little bit about how this conference might address issues regarding the ongoing situation in Venezuela? Is there any discussion about ways that the United States and the allied nations can provide more assistance or anything else regarding the Venezuelan situation?
General Goldfein: Yeah thanks, Steve. I think what’s going to happen, what will likely happen here, at the conference is we’re going to focus a lot of our conversation on humanitarian assistance disaster relief and one of one of the situations in the region that’s generating a humanitarian disaster is what’s going on in Venezuela. I was reading some notes this morning and I think we’re up to like 3.8 million refugees that have been generated as a result of this disaster. And so I expect that we’re going to have a lot of discussion about you know how do we how do we look at our common interests and work together on this. Because this is about strengthening partnerships and this is a regional challenge and it’s a global challenge and it’s a threat to the region. So again being able to be a co-host of this with my fellow Air Chief from El Salvador is a real honor.
Question: Can I ask a follow up question?
General Goldfein: Sure.
Question: Will that include talking with the other nations about ways to better press more commitment to provide humanitarian relief supplies and things like that or ways to improve the delivery of these items or both?
General Goldfein: I’d say it’s both. But I’ll tell you that in one of the final last phone calls I made before I jumped on the airplane was to talk to Admiral Faller. You know he and I have worked together quite a bit over the years beginning with our time together in CENTCOM. And so I wanted to make sure that I was aligned with him and his agenda going forward. And so when it comes to contributions of nations and how we all partner together I’ll be working hard to ensure that I stay aligned with his agenda as he works to any kind of military operations and cooperations here in the region.
Moderator: Thank you. Operator can you please take the next question and as a reminder to our callers please make sure to state your name and affiliation before asking your question.
Operator: Your next question comes from the line of Vivian Machi. Please go ahead.
Question: Hi General Goldfein, thanks for making this call. I wanted to ask you about any potential space-related partnerships you are working on with Latin American allies and which nations specifically and certain areas of partnership whether they be launch partnerships or SSA, if you can elaborate a bit on what might be planned there. Thank you.
General Goldfein: Thanks, Vivian. Great great question.
We hosted our first ever International Air Chiefs Conference at the Space Symposium this year and there were 12 of us that all got together to talk about this and it was interesting two issues came out that were really interesting to me and I think show great promise and that was how each country talked about one, what they’re doing with launch and number two what they’re doing with satellite development. Because the fact that you launch this competitive market for launch is allowing entry into space for not only a number of nations that previously weren’t able to afford to get in, but a number of companies that were seeing profit in space so each country is working forward on both these areas. And I had a great conversation with my fellow Chief from Brazil who was talking about what Brazil is doing leading forward in the space business. I do expect us to have some rather robust discussions about how we move forward together.
Moderator: Thank you. Another advanced question that’s come in. El Salvador is going through quite a shift in leadership with a new president and minister of defense. What does that mean for U.S. – El Salvador relations from an Air Chief’s perspective?
General Goldfein: I think it opens up huge opportunity for us. I was talking with the Air Chief walking in, I went to Air Command Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base years ago and my seminar mate, one of my seminar mates was from El Salvador 837 pilot. And I’m actually hoping to reconnect with him while I’m here. These are about relationships. And so the fact that we’ve got a relatively new president here a relatively new Air Chief here I think it could not be better timed for us all to come together. And again I’m just honored to be able to co-host with Manuel as we go forward.
Moderator: Thank you. Another advanced question that has come in: Why are partnerships so important in North, Central and South America from your perspective?
General Goldfein: Well we’re stronger together and I can tell you that one of our great asymmetric advantages is, I think, the ability to find common interests among nations who then band together not only militarily, but economically, socially. And in this hemisphere we have so much in common to be able to work towards going forward that engagements like this where we’re talking at an Air Chief level and our discussions are not going to be limited to just military capabilities from an Air Chief perspective. We’re going to talk about political issues, we’re going to talk about economic issues, and we’re going to we’re going to talk about the humanitarian disaster that’s been caused by leaders in Venezuela in terms of how we band together to find where our mutual interests are and how we can reduce the suffering that’s been caused. So I think it’s a perfect opportunity for us to get together and the timing couldn’t be better.
Moderator: Thank you. That is all the advanced questions that we have. I see we don’t have any more questions in the queue. General is there any last remark that you’d like to make?
General Goldfein: Well I just want to recognize again the system of cooperation that the American Air Force SICOFAA for their really hard work cohosting this year’s CONJEFAMER. I’m honored to be here. Looking forward to co-host. Glad I’m here with one of our premiere war fighters, General Croft. I’m looking forward to that discussion.
Moderator: That concludes today’s call. I want to thank General Goldfein for joining us. And thank all of our callers for participating. Operator, if you’d like to get some instruction on the call back.