Pacific Air Forces subject matter experts attend Indo-Pacific Safety Air Forces Exchange in New Zealand

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

Personnel from the Pacific Air Forces Safety Directorate co-hosted the annual Indo-Pacific Safety Air Forces Exchange alongside their counterparts from the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Auckland, New Zealand from May 20-24.

Known colloquially as ISAFE, the exchange focuses on bringing Allied and partner countries together to enhance flight safety throughout the Indo-Pacific through discussions on safety best practices, lessons learned, and cooperation between nations.

For 2024, ISAFE saw attendance from Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Echoing the remarks made by Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Captain Mike Cannon, RNZAF Base Auckland commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Brent Harms, PACAF Safety director, provided his opening remarks explaining safety isn’t a one person or one time job, but something everyone must be continuously vigilant about.

“Our jobs as safety professionals demand our attention to enable a just culture where everyone is empowered to be risk aware of their mission and tasks,” said Harms. “We must be diligent as subject matter experts in our trade as aviators and also risk managers to operationalize safety and advise leaders for informed decisions to protect life and resources.”

During the event, there were discussions on various safety topics which included Safety Management System (SMS), Proactive Safety, Mishap Prevention, Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) mitigation, Human Factors (HFACS) issues, and Risk Management (RM).

The conversations held during ISAFE events help build better safety programs to protect people, who are the driving factor of each and every country.

“People are our primary resource, and safety works to ensure that this resource remains sustainable and effective,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Ramirez, PACAF Aviation Safety deputy chief. “It ensures that the equipment they operate is safe and operable. Safety demands commanders and leaders at all levels understand the risk that are present and mitigate them to the best of their abilities to safeguard our personnel and equipment.”

For the Indo-Pacific Region specifically, ISAFE also enables Agile Combat Employment by allowing crosstalk between countries which enhances planning for future exercises and operations.

“The success of ACE hinges on safety; an element built on trust and the understanding of how far all parties are willing to accept or mitigate risks,” said Ramirez. “Common safety practices allow for more force projection while keeping teammates safe throughout the fight. ISAFE helps ensure that there is an eye on safe operations at all ACE locations.”

Reflecting on the exchange after the fact, Harms believed it was a successful event that brought together many Allies and partners in the name of safety.

“I was impressed with the safety professionals and experience every nation sent to the event,” said Harms. “It was humbling so many Air Forces are interested in safety – not just for safety’s sake, but as the operational force multiplier which brings Airpower.”

ISAFE is all about sharing best ideas and practices so each nation can bring those ideas back to their countries to enhance their own safety programs. The next iteration for 2025 is currently slated to be in Guam.