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Airpower's effectiveness in the Asia-Pacific region will turn on America's alliances with its most stalwart allies, according to Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert Carlisle. The Air Force's relations with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, for example, are experiencing a renaissance, as cooperation in core areas such as command and control and air defense has noticeably improved in the last few years, said PACAF officials and commanders here in Japan, where Welsh is visiting as part of his tour of the region. Regional security matters, such as disputes with China over territories in the East China Sea, are bringing the United States and Japan closer in many ways. "Three to four years ago, our [operational] integration with the Japanese wasn't as good as it could be," said Brig. Gen. James Hecker, commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base. "It's a completely different story now," said Hecker, who served as US Forces Japan's director of operations from 2009 to 2011. He noted that cooperation in areas like air superiority training is better, as is information sharing, especially when there are classification issues.