Mobility leaders discuss expanding competitive airlift edge at AFA panel

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  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

Gen. Maryanne Miller, Air Mobility Command commander, led a panel discussion on expanding the competitive airlift edge during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Sept. 17 in National Harbor.

Miller was joined on stage by Maj. Gen. Mark Camerer, AMC director of strategic plans, requirements and programs, and Dave Lange, FedEx Charters managing director.

The central question posed by the panel’s moderator, retired Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzriem, Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies director of research, asked how the mobility air force planned to meet the demands of the future to compete, deter and if necessary, win.

Miller took the audience to the Air Force of the early 1990s when it was appropriately sized and equipped for the strategic needs of the time. In contrast, she noted the MAF of today has 36% fewer aircraft and 37% fewer people and, even with a pilot shortage, is flying 15% more missions than just three to four years ago.

She expressed gratitude for the partnership amongst the total force, which fulfilled 50% of taskings between 2003 and 2012.

Miller also recognized that future challenges are real, complex and include threats that affect U.S. military cyber activities, access to bases, communications, maintenance and generation and sustainment in the fight.

Lange noted that these threats could also limit U.S. Transportation Command and AMC’s ability to use commercial augmentation, or Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which is composed of select U.S. commercial carriers that are contractually committed to augment Defense Department airlift requirements in emergencies when the need for airlift exceeds the capability of military aircraft.

Amidst this change, Lange assured attendees that the carriers are still dedicated to the program, and the military is still committed to the safety of the commercial partners.

“The CRAF has a patriotic duty, but in the future, the handoff will be farther away from the battlefield, because of the (increased) capability of the enemy,"  Lange shared. "Both AMC and the CRAF understand we have a job to do and the need to do it in the best, safest way possible.”

Miller went on to explain that AMC must continue to exercise, iterate and develop capabilities to increase flexibility and agility through decision dominance and freedom of movement.

Camerer added that strategic partnerships are key to interoperability in future threat environments and are currently being tested in the ongoing Mobility Guardian exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

“There’s more to executing operations than just access,” Camerer said. “There’s the critical relationships we have with our international partners and through exercises like Mobility Guardian, we can assess the shared capabilities we may need to leverage if we fight a war together.”

Support from total force, commercial and international partnerships prove necessary to expand the competitive edge due to the previously addressed Air Force-wide pilot shortage affecting the MAF, which is currently short 570 pilots.

Miller stressed that even though operational demands will not decrease, she is actively working to increase crew ratio. Efforts include funding to build manning, quality of life and work initiatives for Airmen and families, such as license reciprocity for spouses and contracted civilians for administrative roles within squadrons.

“We’re all in this together trying to make your service to country the best experience on the planet,” Miller said. “We will get through our challenges together and one Airman at a time.”