Machines of War and Wings of Hope|
9/20/2011 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Thank you Dustin. To all of you, thank you for being here today. It's a wonderful opportunity when we get to have government, in this case the Air Force, join with industry and share what we're looking to do and look at how industry delivers it for us.
What I'd like to do today is share with you our perspective around global mobility, how we answer the call so others can prevail. But it's important to define who we are, this mobility family. For 135,000 active duty, Guard and Reserve and civilians, and last year I didn't say it but this year I will, include our commercial partners because we will spend $2.5 billion with commercial partners this year. Our commercial partners move 90 percent of all of our partners and 37 percent of all of our cargo. So without them, we really wouldn't be this wonderful family.
What is it that we do? We deliver hope with our airlift capabilities, we fuel fighting with our air refueling and we save lives with aeromedical evacuation. But we're part of this grand ballet because we do nothing by ourselves. We're the air component to TRANSCOM, and with air, land and sea, we deliver the rapid part. We can be anywhere in the world in 18 hours. When you don't have access via seaport or roads, we can deliver through air drops.
It's a wonderful combination. Just as we did in Haiti where we were moving food and water in, and search and rescue teams because there was no other access. But very quickly the Navy was filling up a ship. It took a couple of days to get there. A couple of days to fill it, a couple of days to steam, and when it arrived in Port au Prince, it had 400 C-17 equivalent loads. So very quickly we could close it with sealift.
Now we can get there very quickly, one flying hour can replace one steaming day, but we're ten times more expensive. But it's really not about the individual capabilities, it's about the synergistic when we come together. And if you think about it, the best example would probably be the MRAPs because we needed getting MRAPs to the AOR because they save lives. They return our soldiers and our marines back to their families. When they were first being manufactured we'd fill up a C-17 with three. It would take off from Charleston Air Force Base, fly, do an air refueling off the East Coast, land in Ramstein, quick turn and get into the AOR. A 20 hour flight would deliver three precious MRAPs. We continued to do that because that was the most effective we could be at the time. But working with TRANSCOM, under TRANSCOM and General McNabb said let's go multi-modal. Let's fill up the ship at Charleston. Let's put 250, 350, 400 MRAPs on it. Let's steam it across the ocean. And while we continue to fly from Charleston, that 20 hour sortie, we had the ship arrive at Bahrain or [inaudible]. And when that ship offloaded, we moved them to the airport, and there C-17s picked them up, three, and then fly MRAPs, it would take just three hours, into Bastian. So amazingly, we could continue to sustain that operation and deliver them three to five at a time in a C-17 with a three hour flight versus three going all the way from the States.
So we are increasing our effectiveness and actually being more efficient because that multi-modal saved us $110 million per thousand MATVs, and that's one month's savings.
The same thing is going on right now at Rota where we actually sail the helicopters over to the port of Rota, we put them up the hill, get them on C-5s, C-5M, As and Bs who do magnificent work, and get them into the AOR. The same thing is occurring. It's about that multi-modal capability that gives us that synergistic effect.
But it's not about the airplanes. It's not about the steel and the aluminum. It has no heart. The heart of what we do really are the airmen. Our support, our tacticians, our maintainers, our porters, our air crew. What do they focus on? They focus on our troops. They focus on families be it in Japan or families in the U.S. suffering through tornados and hurricanes. They focus on civilians that could be in Libya trying to direct their nation to a new course. Whatever we do, we focus on others. They're the subject of the sentence. Because we answer a call so they can prevail.
Has it been a busy year? The demand is insatiable. Last year we talked about 2010 and then we talked about the plus-up in Afghanistan, the drawdown in Iraq, and we were poised to do that as we mobilized our Guard and Reserve. But then we were surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, followed by the earthquake in Chile, followed by the worst oil spill in the history of our nation in the Gulf, followed by floods in Pakistan that had two million people displaced, followed by a change of government in Kurdistan that said we don't want the [inaudible] for a while, oh yeah, followed by the fact that Iceland had volcanoes and that the volcanoes erupted and shut down the entire Atlantic transit. So on a Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 o'clock we picked up the phone and said move the flow west, so we moved it all west to make sure we could support those in and Iraq. It's absolutely amazing.
In 2010 we were just exhausted. We said well, we made it through with great style. We were very effective. 2011 possibly couldn't be like it was. So in December we were thinking about life's pretty good. We knew it would be busy in 2011 because we had 30,000 more folks to support in Afghanistan. We knew we had three major exercises in the Pacific -- in Korea, Singapore and Thailand. We knew we were going to be in the middle of [inaudible] the Army folks going in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We knew we'd be moving a very large fighter package as they transited from the AOR back to the States. We knew we had a large presidential movement through the south to northern continents as the President visited many nations. We knew that. And then Arab Spring started. We started worrying about Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen. We're still worried about what was happening on the Ivory Coast and we had done our mission analysis because we knew if something was going to happen there we'd have to bring somebody or something in.
Then the call came, but not from where we thought. It came from out west in Japan with an earthquake of 9.0 and a tsunami wave traveling at 530 miles an hour. And it became a triple F for us -- humanitarian assistance, consequence management, and really evacuation. We all fell under Admiral Willard, General North and General Field as we came to help in humanitarian assistance, moving food and water and rescue teams is, just as we would for a humanitarian issue. But then concern about the reactors said we need more [inaudible]. We need dosimeters. We need to have a naval reactor assessment team come in and help quantify what was going on. So we all did that. Then our families were concerned, should we be staying there, what's going on? And so Admiral Willard and many folks got together and said let's allow our families to leave. When they said that, it could have been up to 90,000 dependents leaving Japan coming back to the States. So we called our commercial partners yet again and said hey, we need to get some of your aircraft over there, can you help us out? They sure did. Now that 90,000 only turned out to be 7800 and those 7800 family member started going to Seattle. But this was spring break. Seattle was overwhelmed, as the airport was, and we said let's start moving them down to Travis because we had plussed all the aircraft out of Travis because they were doing the bidding that we needed to do. And what was amazing when those families showed up at Travis, the entire community came in and they said we want to help because these are families. So they came together and they said how can we help? They turned Travis into a huge family support center. This was their last chance to maybe get some legal advice or get some medical or make the commissary run, because they would leave Travis and go on whether it was San Jose or Sacramento or Oakland or San Francisco, to be with their families. Everybody came together. It warmed your heart. We had stray pets, we had dog fights. We had airmen holding kids. And if you saw what it was, it was how do we take care of our own, and those kind of things just are absolutely amazing.
That's what we do. Help others, no matter who they may be.
At the same time our airlift operations were really, really in demand. In fact I'd like to tell you about one of the first calls we got.
A small contingent, group of soldiers of the 77th Regiment was surrounded by the enemy. They were running out of supplies. They got word back to their rear echelon and said hey, we need help. Please help us. Two lieutenants -- Lieutenant Gettler and Lieutenant Beckley -- jumped in their aircraft and went off to find them. To the chagrin of everyone, they couldn't even find them. They returned and said we're going back out again. We have to find these folks. They took off again and they found them. They went over the first time at altitude and dropped, but they missed. They didn't have the precision to get them the supplies that they needed. So they came back around a second time. They were lower and they were slower. They dropped again. But on the way, they were shot and they were killed. The aircraft was destroyed.
In fact, those two lieutenants were awarded the Medal of Honor. The year was 1918. The way they got to the rear echelon was carrier pigeon. The aircraft the two lieutenants used was the VH-4 biplane.
As I fast forward to 2005, the material ways in which we do this mission have changed, but our service, the sense of commitment of answering the call, of trying to deliver hope hasn't. Because in 2005, we delivered two million pounds through airdrop. The number doubled. In 2010 we delivered 60 million pounds. This year, because of the 30,000 soldiers that are there, we're going to deliver over 90 million pounds of food, water, ammunition, and fuel.
That's a huge number. What does that mean? When you see one C-17, it's got about 54,000 pounds in it. One
C-130, about 22,000 pounds. Still, big numbers. It's 6,000 bundles a month of delivering that support to those who need it.
Does it make a difference? Well at FOB Akard which is 15 miles from the Pakistani border where many a contingent occupies, they are so isolated that all of their supplies have to come in through the drop zone. But they called in and said we're Code Black. We're out of fuel within 72 hours. Help. We can't get to our drop zone because the road is full of IEDs. We flew in Captain Garmin, our air mobility liaison officer to help us figure this out. He said they're right, we can't get out to the DZ. We have to plan a drop and drop on top of them. That's not something we planned to do.
Our tactics folks at the CAOC went through and planned it. We loaded up a C-17 with 20 bundles of fuel. Took off using low velocity chutes. And went over and dropped. Nineteen of those bundles got into the [bottom], one was just outside. All the fuel was recovered. It allowed them to prevail, to continue, so that they could get the road rid of the IEDs, so they had mobility again, they could get out and use the regular drop zone. It's not something we plan every day, but our folks said yes, we can. There would have been every reason to say no, we don't drop on people, but they were able to do that.
And it's not just FOBs. A call comes in from a village in Nuristan which is a small village that was actually surrounded by the Taliban. Think about the Berlin Airlift. They had cut them off food and water. They were close to starvation. This village rests between two big mountains. They said is there any way you can get us some food and water because we don't have any other access? And of course the folks at the CAOC said yes, we can; yes, we will. Oh, we had a couple of issues. We couldn't drop on the village. We had to fine a DZ that was in between the mountains that they could get access to, but there was no way to secure the DZ. The Taliban would be there.
So the ISAF leadership said let's take the ANA, the Afghan National Army, and let's helo them in. Let's let them secure that drop zone. And they did. At the same time we went to the folks who were doing all our rigging and we said we know you're rigging 120 a day, but how about throwing an extra 40 on so we can put 50,000 pounds of food and water on for the village? And they did. A Moose 8-4 takes off, using high velocity chutes so we can minimize the effect of the wind. Precision isn't quite there yet. They drop all 40 bundles, all on a DZ that was secured by the Afghan National Army. Those villagers looked up and what did they see? Not a machine of war. They saw wings of hope. If they saw it at all from 17,000 feet where we dropped from, because of the high terrain. What else did they see? They saw their own military had secured that drop zone and was handing out food and water to their own citizens.
Think about that. It was right on so many levels, and the Taliban were thwarted. You can't stop what we're doing. Delivering hope through air drop.
But as we talk about this, did I even need the DZ? Why couldn't I just open up the back of the airplane and have food and water come out and flutter down? Think of what we would have saved. And with that capability we call it a HOPE package. Six ounces of food or six ounces of water in a very small package that floats down, that gives me the disbursal, and with that capability we can respond anywhere in the world, anywhere in the world with humanitarian assistance. We don't need a drop zone. We don't need a secure drop zone. We don't need to potentially hurt somebody if a pallet goes errant. So with that capability working with AFRL, working with industry partners, we're going to be able to do that and we're testing it right now.
But let's talk about that other part at FOB Akard, precision. We've been living off the goodness of Newton for a long time. We know that if we drop it out of the airplane, it's going to hit the ground. Gravity works. But is gravity going to be accurate enough for us?
Just as we had iron bombs years ago, when they hit the ground it was good with the exception of collateral damage. Once we got GPS, once we got JDAM, the threshold of collateral damage shrunk. Expectation is now the weapon is smart.
What about having smart bundles? What about putting GPS on the bundle and having a power foil that can steer it down and can navigate around high terrain? We can do that now, but it's a very nascent capability. It's a special capability. We need to make it cheaper, we need to be using it more so that with the JDAM we say we can put a weapon through somebody's window. I don't need to put it through the window. I just want to deliver it to the front door.
So if you think about it, GPS is good, what about getting some of those old seeker heads and having the JTAC designate say, Boom, that's where I want it to go, and that seeker head steers that power foil. Think about what we can do when it comes to precision, and in this way we can keep the aircraft at a higher altitude if risk is an element, and still deliver what we need to do. Again, it's industry that's going to deliver us that solution. Absolutely phenomenal.
We were talking about that March Madness. I need to get back to that. Japan was just the first call. The second call did come and it was about Libya. It went something like this. Hey Ray, this guy is about to kill his own people. He's about to unleash his own military on his own citizens. We need to stop him. We need to keep him at bay. How are we going to do that?
The quickest way is to get the fighters down from Europe under General Welsh and General Woodward, get them now. Then the coalition will form around that. And we need to get air refueling assets over there as quickly as possible because the fighters don't have the range and the loiter time to get over Libya and stay and be effective. How quickly can you get 24 KC-135s and 4 KC-10s to Moron, because the Spanish were very stoked about supporting that mission. We need them there immediately. And the call went out. But as we looked around the command, the active duty was out of Schlitz, between al-Udeid and Al Dhafra, we were all pre-deployed. So a lot was going to fall to the Guard and Reserve.
So I called Brigadier General Roy Uptegraff, sitting right back there, I said Roy -- he's the Commander of the Pittsburgh Air National Guard. I said Roy, I need you to do me a favor. Will you command this mission? I need a general officer with a lot of tanker experience. He said I've got it. When do you want me to go? Tomorrow. That night from those calls, thousands of calls went out across our Air Force. We had tankers that were moving fighters in and out of the AOR. We put those tankers down. We had six tankers that were in Puerto Rico, they had just finished a presidential support mission. They had one pair of clean underwear and they were heading back home the next day. We said guess what? There's a great Laundromat in Rome. Take off, head east, and you can land there. Those six took off. Then from around our country 19 other units said coach, put me in and we generated. In fact there's an airman at McConnell Air Force Base that was taking his wife out to dinner and he got the phone call. We need you in the squad room now -- pack your bag. He was airborne four hours from the time of that phone call. A young man in Fairchild came in Saturday morning, the day after, and said okay, I'm ready to go. He was looking a little pale. Hi supervisor goes, what's going on? He said well, my girlfriend's in the car. Okay. I hear you, but -- Well, we're on our way to get married. So being a good supervisor, he said go, get married, spend the night, get your butt back here in the morning and off he went. He kissed his wife goodbye Sunday morning and said honey, welcome to the Air Force. [Laughter]. And none of these folks who were going out had any idea of how long they would be there.
So 534 airmen took off and basically invaded Moron Air Base. The air base squadron commander was a USAFE gentleman by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Real Flores. He was about to retire in two weeks. He had done a great job of working that air base squadron with 115 airmen and about 400 contractors. We invaded him. He was so gracious. He couldn't do enough. He had one admin building. That became the wing headquarters for the Calico Wings, they call themselves. The chow hall was under renovation so we took the club and basically converted the club into the dining facility. The bar, all full of booze, that was all gone, that became the in-flight kitchen. And when those folks all landed, it could have been this is my aircraft, my way, I'm a Guard guy, I'm a Reserve guy, I'm an active duty guy. No. None of that. All that stuff we've been doing with the AEF, it came true because I didn't hear any of that. All I heard is we have a mission. And from our security forces, our intel, our tactics, our porters, everybody came together to turn those aircraft while some of the crew slept. And the next morning that armada took off and met up with those fighters and helped keep those ISR platforms overhead for 2400 sorties, 146 million pounds of fuel. Most importantly, 11,000 receivers were serviced so they could stay overhead.
So as we look to this now, as you see the civilians on TV in Libya charting a course for their nation, they have little idea that this coalition of fighters and ISR was above them protecting them. They have even less of an idea that coalition tankers, because we were part of a coalition team under a NATO had, under General Woodward, the U.S. hat, were there. It was airmen from all over our Air Force -- active, Guard and Reserve, and airmen from other nations that instead of saying good night to their families, said goodbye. From one phone call, General Uptegraff was there for 93 days before we redeployed and those airmen made a huge difference in fueling the fight.
Then think about this. We're doing this with 50-plus year old aircraft in a 135. With 30 year old aircraft in the KC-10. It's a ton of sweat equity that goes to generate those aircraft, but there's a lot of great industry solutions that allow us to sustain and modernize that 135 that are working right now to modernize the
KC-10s, to put a new cockpit in it. Because it's industry partners that really make that difference so that we can yes.
And we're so excited that the KC-46 is coming. First flight January 15. I've got the date penciled in. Delivery starting the 16th. While we wait for that, we've learned a couple of lessons. Because on our 135s and
KC-10s in this coalition fight we had wing pods and these wing pods [have drogues] because most of the coalition fighters use a probe and hit the drogue. That's how they are refueled. And what we've learned is, if you hit it with a little bit too much smash, if you're nervous, a little inexperienced and you hit that drogue with a little bit too much speed, a beautiful sine wave goes up to the airplane, comes right back, and snaps off their probe. And guess what? They don't get their fuel and they get to go somewhere else. So we're sitting there with the wing commander in Moron, He's got four probes on his desk and none of those are success stories. We hadn't been using this system, but now we must. I turned to industry to say how can we improve this system so that it can be more tolerant, so I'm not taking off people's probes? Because I know that will make a difference. We can't wait for tomorrow on that one, we have to work that one today.
Just as coalition has helped us as we learn these things, the French helped us really with the 135 when it came to lighting our stanchions. Why light the stanchions? It's critical because the 135 is one of our air medical evaluation platforms, our third competency.
Back in Vietnam, it took 45 days average from the time you were injured to the time we got you to Walter Reed or Bethesda. In the Gulf War it was down to 10 days. Seventy-five percent probability of living back then. Now we're up to basically 94 percent, and if I get you into the AE system, 98 percent. We're just a piece of it. But what we've done with our AE teams is, we've added these critical care AE teams, trauma surgeons and nurses that can sustain you, that we can take you from the operating room and if we have to move you in a period of hours to get you follow-on care. That's simply amazing.
Does it make a difference? Well, it did to Sergeant Tom Ward, who was outside of Ramadi in his MRAP, just simply discharging his fire extinguisher when it hit him, knocked him out. Basically killed him. Heart stopped, not breathing. Some of his fellow Army soldiers there see him, were not sure for how long, and actually use CPR, they resuscitated him, he's breathing, his heart's going, but he's not conscious, in fact he's comatose.
They get him on a helicopter into the Balad air hospital and there those docs are going we're not sure of his condition, how much internal damage, how long was he without oxygen. So they say we are not prepared to try and recover him. We need to get him to Landstuhl. How are we going to do it? I kid you not, one of the Reservists said hypothermia. Let's keep him chilled so he does little damage to himself until we get him to Landstuhl. They're actually on the internet, airmen innovating, saying how are we going to do this? Okay, we're going to get ice. This is not a prepared thing. Let's go to the chow hall, let's go to the fire department, let's get bags of ice and put it around him to start bringing his temperature down between 89 and 93 degrees. Oh, and by the way, we're going to put ice in the blender and insert it down his stomach and we're going to actually put it up in his bladder. And the IV fluids that are going into him, we're going to freeze those first before they go in, chill them. And we're concerned about brain swelling so we're going to basically open up his cranium and put a sensor in there because we can't afford to have his brain swell for fear of more brain damage.
Then it's time to call the AE crew and the CCAC crew. Hey, we need to get this guy up to Landstuhl pretty quick. A seven hour flight normally. By the way, crew, how cold can you make this airplane? We need to have it like a meat locker. So they plan to do that, they get him on the aircraft, and it is a big ice box flying up there. But halfway through the AE team says we need to go faster. So that crew coordinates -- and this is a C-17, folks, it's not going supersonic. They coordinate for high speed. That's a relative term. They get in a half hour sooner to get him to Landstuhl where they stabilized him and after two days they start bringing him up. They then fly him down to Brooks where he spends two weeks. He literally wakes up at Brooks and says, what happened? How did I get here? But the good news is he woke up, fully recovered, back with his unit.
Now it wasn't a high end trauma but it was innovating to keep somebody alive and that chain of care to get him back to his unit.
We often focus about the back end of the airplane, and we assume that the front end, the crew's going to get the airplane there. Well, that always works. But this last incident was quite challenging because the call came in from the South Pole. Now when you winter down in the South Pole you may as well be in space because you are locked out. We put you down there in the fall, you winter, we come get you in the spring.
But the call came and said we have a civilian down here who will not make it through the winter. She's gotten ill. Is there any way you can possibly get down here and pick her up? Last year we would have not been able to do that. But because of the work of our crews, because of the night vision goggles that industry has given us, the techniques and the procedures we're now using, our crew has developed a way to land on the ice, blacked out.
So they took off from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, went down to Hawaii and picked up a CCATT, on down to Christchurch and headed down to McMurdoo. McMurdoo's a beautiful place in the summer, but that's not what you see when you go down in the winter. It's black. They took off using night vision goggles, landed in zero zero blacked out. They spent 42 minutes on the ground, got that civilian on the back of the aircraft and got her off to Christchurch where she's now doing well. But had they not developed that technique and that procedure, we would have been unable to save her life.
So here's a case in point where the front end can be just as important as the back end.
Remember I chatted about that 98 percent. Here's where some of that 2 percent rests. If you are in the first surgical stage where you've had your first surgery, we then move you to the theater hospital and we're not moving you using aeromedical evacuation, we're just moving you. And sometimes from the point of impact to the first surgical triage station you move alone. That's where we're losing people. So technology has helped us. We have now shrunk down that intensive care package that sits over you while you're on the airplane, it's in a couple of back packs. We have now put TCCET teams out there, Tactical Critical Care Evaluation Team -- just started this in July. We put them out there and they'll be in the back of an MRAP or a helicopter, anything, to get you from that first surgical station to the theater hospital. Now we're trying to actually put them out so we can get them out at the point of impact, we can be with them the entire time. It may allow us to go after that last 2 percent and return those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to their families, because that's what it's about. And we couldn't be more overjoyed because now the Army is actually going to be doing this with us. So our ability to grab that last 2 percent is huge. But again, it's industry that said yes, we can shrink this intensive care suite down and put it in a backpack. It's industry that tells us how we can use better techniques for hypothermia. How we can use telemetry and start to monitor what's happening to a person before we even have visibility signs, and adjusting their respiration. It's industry that's going to give us the technology, the nano-technology that we can insert something in you and while you're in transit probably start the healing process to stop further injury.
So at the end of the day, what we are able to do by saying yes, comes down to that partnership between us and industry. Those airmen who are focused on saying yes, answering the call so others can live, from air drop. We need that precision. That hope package.
From air refueling with the magnificent KC-46 sets coming to ways to sustain this KC-135 and KC-10 until the day comes when we can retire them.
And aeromedical evacuation, for that new technology that lets us go after the last 2 percent.
At the end of the day all we want to do is say yes. We want to answer the call so that no matter who calls they will prevail. Because we're part of this magnificent team, this magnificent organization called the Air Force.
Thank you very much for being part of this wonderful family with us.