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Connecting Kadena to the Indo-Pacific

Portrait of Sgt. Begeman

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight chief, stands outside of his squadron building at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 1, 2021. Begeman is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Global Studies from American Military University in addition to teaching international relations and National Defense Strategy courses at the McDaniel Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Portrait of Sgt. Begeman

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight chief, stands in front of a squadron emblem at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 1, 2021. Begeman is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Global Studies from American Military University in addition to teaching international relations and National Defense Strategy courses at the McDaniel Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

TSgt. Begeman briefing an international relations course.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight chief, explains key terminology corresponding to international relations at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 17, 2021. International relations is the study of the interaction of nation-states and non-governmental organizations in fields such as politics, economics and security. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

TSgt. Begeman briefing an international relations course.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight chief, teaches an international relations course at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 17, 2021. Begeman teaches the international relations course at the McDaniel Center to help Airmen understand how they fit into the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

Every day Airmen wake up and put on their uniform to perform a job essential to executing the mission. While getting the mission done is critical, understanding the strategic environment in which Airmen serve is equally important. 

According to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, there are few regions as culturally, socially, economically and geo-politically diverse as the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific region comprises 36 nations, includes several of the world’s largest militaries and is home to more than 50 percent of the world's population.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Begeman, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight chief, has made it his mission to equip Kadena service members with the knowledge and resources to better understand their impact in the Pacific. Begeman does this by briefing Airmen on topics such as the National Defense Strategy and international relations at the McDaniel Center. 

"Understanding the strategic environment allows Airmen to take a step back and really look at critical historic events from different viewpoints,” said Begeman. “The military provides our strategic leaders the ability to bring other players to the negotiation table but you can’t effectively do that unless you understand the overall defense environment.”

Kadena Air Base is the keystone of the Pacific — its strategic location, size and mix of combat capabilities make it a powerful deterrent in the region so connecting Airmen to their strategic and operational environment constructs a more lethal force. 

The NDS is a document central to understanding U.S. defense priorities, as it outlines objectives the Department of Defense has identified to keep the homeland safe from threats. 

In his class, Begeman breaks down the NDS in a manner Airmen can easily understand and how to relate it to both their job and USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility.  Once Airmen have a solid foundation of the NDS, introducing them to the world of international relations is the next step in piecing the puzzle together. 

Airmen who take the international relations course are exposed to basic terminology in order to apply those terms to real world situations, Begeman explained. Once applied to real world situations, they can then tailor them to USINDOPACOM’s AOR. 

With allies and partners, USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and, when necessary, fighting to win. This approach is based on partnership, presence and military readiness.

"It’s really important to highlight what Airmen do every day here on Kadena and how it supports the purpose of our presence in the Pacific,” explained Senior Master Sgt. John Firlik, 718th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “The National Defense Strategy and international relations courses are able to connect Airmen to the bigger picture, and Tech. Sgt. Begeman does a great job of doing that.”