Mobility Air Forces provide wartime capability, humanitarian assistance

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The same mobility machines and personnel that deliver critical capabilities to U.S. joint forces in combat have also proven their mettle in humanitarian missions, said Air Mobility Command's top officer at the Air Force Association's 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 19.

General Ray Johns lauded the 135,000 active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen and civilians who comprise the Mobility Air Forces and provide unrivaled Global Reach for America.

"We deliver hope with our airlift and airdrop capabilities, we fuel the fight with our air refueling and we save lives with our aeromedical evacuation," Johns said, adding the Mobility Air Forces ensure the rapid element of the U.S. Transportation Command's air, land and sea capabilities can be anywhere in the world in 18 hours. "The heart and soul of what we do is in our Airmen: our support, our tacticians, maintainers, porters and aircrews, who focus on serving others."

Johns explained that simultaneous needs to support approximately 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, three major exercises in Korea, Singapore and Thailand, presidential movements, and missions throughout the world brought the command to record levels - until the news in Japan broke.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami wave devastated parts of the nation and soon Mobility Airmen found themselves assisting with a triple-header response of "humanitarian assistance, consequence management and voluntary evacuation for US military dependents," Johns said.

Approximately 7,800 dependents were evacuated to Seattle and Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Initial estimations projected the potential need to move 90,000 dependents, Johns said, adding that industry partners again stepped in to offer assistance.

With ongoing combat operations in full swing, other concurrent natural disasters such as the floods in Pakistan, earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and even volcanic activity have done little to hamper the command's wartime capabilities, Johns explained.

Despite the barrage of humanitarian missions, Johns emphasized the attention to the needs of the warfighter, specifically in aeromedical evacuation, remain focused.

In July 2011, AMC collaborated with industry to develop tactical critical care evacuation teams that can transport wounded warriors from the point of injury to first surgical station. These teams will increase our capability to allow U.S. forces to return Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen safely to their families, the general said.