DOD activates commercial airlift reserves

  • Published
  • By Gerry J. Gilmore
  • American Forces Press Service
Commercial airlines have been enlisted by Department of Defense officials to transport troops and equipment as part of the buildup for possible war with Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered the activation of Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. The CRAF, created in 1952, boosts U.S. military airlift capability with civilian planes, if needed.

Under Stage 1, 22 U.S. airline companies will make 47 of their passenger airliners and 31 cargo planes available for military use, according to U.S. Transportation Command officials. Currently, only the 47 passenger aircraft are being activated. The cargo planes could be drafted into service quickly if needed.

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet program has three stages. Stage 1 is the lowest activation level. Stage II was activated for the first time during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Stage III, for full-scale mobilizations, has never been activated; it calls for the use of up to 400 civilian aircraft.

The Air Mobility Command awards peacetime contracts to commercial air carriers that participate in the CRAF program.

Historically, the commercial sector has provided the U.S. military with 93 percent of all troop air-transport and 41 percent of long-range cargo needs, according to TRANSCOM officials.