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General Handy lauds mobility team, addresses issues at ATA convention

ANAHEIM, Calif. (USTCNS) --- U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. John W. Handy kicked off the second day of the 35th Airlift/Tanker Association convention here with a speech lauding the mobility team for its unprecedented successes as part of the Global War on Terror.

"Our Total Force mobility team gave everything that it had," General Handy said of the command's performance during recent events. "If we look at what we've accomplished, we have used every single asset, and virtually every person in this command, to accomplish the tasks we were assigned."

For Homeland Defense, Handy reported that AMC tankers have flown more than 8,000 sorties, refueling more than 22,000 receiver aircraft, "to keep the skies over this country safe, and provide America that security blanket, that feeling of comfort that we're up there protecting them." He added that the majority of those missions were flown by volunteers from the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard.

General Handy also cited the Civil Reserve Air Fleet and its passenger-carrying capability, which was mobilized for only the second time in history during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as essential to the nation's success in that campaign. CRAF resources along with organic air have moved more than 900,000 troops to date. He also noted that the cargo-carrying arm of the CRAF volunteered in sufficient strength throughout the conflict that a mobilization of those assets wasn't necessary. The TRANSCOM team moved 10.3 million tons of cargo to and from the theater.

In addition to praising the mobility air forces, the general also broached current challenges the command is facing, including the need to replace the "tired iron" that exists today.

"Whether we lease or buy (Boeing 767s), we have to replace the KC-135," he said. To make his case, Handy cited the Centennial of Flight, which is to be celebrated in December in recognition of the 12-second, 120-foot maiden powered flight of the original Wright Flyer in 1903. He said that if the service started replacing aged KC-135 E and R models immediately and at the rate of 15 per year, the average KC-135 would be between 80 and 100 years old when the last one retires. "It would be exactly like going out to any one of your Air Force bases or installations and seeing a squadron of Wright Flyers out there right now."

General Handy also spoke about the need to consolidate the Air Force's 15 different C-130 models; current plans call for paring the varied versions from 15 to five. "We're wasting a lot of time and money on the various maintenance and supply systems that have to keep them going," he said. While the incoming C-130J model will do a lot to modernize and standardize the fleet, the general emphasized "that we must take care of the remaining force."

In summing up the contributions of air mobility to the Global War on Terror, General Handy said that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan weren't the only games in town that the command supported.

"You supported operations in more than 98 different countries," he told the audience. "You conducted more than 230 humanitarian relief missions. In spite of everything else this command is doing, the support doesn't cease to all the other combatant commanders around the world."

If you look at the numbers - passengers and tons moved - ongoing mobility operations are second in magnitude to the Berlin Airlift.
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