When the Chief of Air Force (CAF) arrived on HMAS Canberra off the coast of Thailand, he wore a Navy shirt over his uniform.
Air Marshal Leo Davies’ symbolic combination highlighted the joint nature of the major international deployment INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019 (IPE19).
CAF arrived on Canberra after hosting a display of the Royal Australian Air Force’s regional capability.
“Today, we’ve transported our Thai mates down to Phuket on board a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport and we’ll take them home tomorrow,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“That says we’re willing to invest and it’s been powerful. This is about national and international relationships, pure and simple.”
For Air Marshal Davies, IPE19 sends a clear signal to the region and RAAF members.
“What IPE does say is: ‘Hey, Air Force, what part can you do that is bigger than what you did yesterday?’ This is a real focus for the Australian Defence Force (ADF),” he said.
“I would offer to our Thai brothers and sisters that we’ve been on a joint journey for some time. We’re showing them the value of a joint approach to any endeavour.”
He said the ADF’s cultural journey towards a joint environment was being followed closely by our regional partners.
IPE19’s presence in South-East Asia has already produced significant benefits.
“It’s easy to sit in Canberra and talk about relating better with our Thai brothers and sisters, but until you put forward some real people and real resources, it doesn’t really say a lot. We are saying a lot right now,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“Our relationships are built on trust. We work together on exercises and humanitarian and disaster relief operations, but I don’t know that the depth of what we can do together has been explored yet.
“We wear our uniforms proudly but we can wear them beside each other. That’s a great outcome.”
In another example of cooperation in the ADF during IPE19, a RAAF C-17A Globemaster delivered four Army ARH Tiger helicopters to join the IPE19 mission on board Canberra.