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USTRANSCOM commander discusses separation of commands

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (USTCNS) --- Change, not only in the delineation of command responsibility between Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command, but also in the way USTRANSCOM projects military power, was the theme of the opening address at the 37th Annual Airlift/Tanker Association Conference here Oct. 28.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, USTRANSCOM commander, kicked off the conference with praise for the AMC warfighter in a very challenging and demanding time, and then outlined recent and upcoming changes and challenges for his command.

"We're changing the way we do business," he said of USTRANSCOM. "Not because we can, but because we must be as adaptive and agile as we have ever been at any time in our history. We'll change mindsets, perspectives, command structures, the mix of assets, whatever it takes. We have been trusted with the authority to lead, to transform and (we have) an awesome responsibility of serving the combatant commanders who will win this war."

Among the most recent changes is the separation of command of AMC and USTRANSCOM, which he sees as a good thing for both commands.

"The Air Force and the joint commands must have full-time leaders working their respective portfolios," said the general. "A large part of the logic is to provide the 80,000-plus Air Force members (of AMC) with a four-star advocate not tied to joint considerations and workload."

A large portion of the separation is because of the growth and maturity USTRANSCOM has made in becoming the defense supply chain manager that the Secretary of Defense had envisioned for the command. That supply chain is an end-to-end process orchestrated by the command that is developing now and is the future of the distribution process, he said.

"The future is all about forward-leaning joint warfare, doing things smarter," General Schwartz said, noting that the Air Force has pioneered that idea. "Exercise BRIGHT STAR in Egypt is an excellent example of the Air Force showing the way ahead. The exercise involved the Army, Navy and Air Force. For the Air Force, an 18th Air Force contingency response group, the 818th CRG at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., opened a deployment and distribution pipeline in a theater operation. Jointly, the services opened an airfield, established in-transit visibility of passengers and cargo, and performed initial personnel and cargo movements."

The exercise uncovered a better way of executing joint cargo and personnel movement, he said.

"It proved that we could eliminate lags between initial occupation of a port and subsequent support phases," General Schwartz said. "It proved operational advantages we can offer a combatant commander by placing experts and tools in his command, not leaving him a phone number to call for help." That concept is now a reality for Joint Deployment Distribution Operation Centers.

When looking at recapitalization, General Schwartz said he sees a need for a new analysis that will "underwrite a wise and well-reasoned position for recapitalization;" a study that will define the right mix of commercial and military airlift and will not always present airlift as the only answer.

In closing his speech, General Schwartz made it clear that he trusts USTRANSCOM and those who support it.

"With your continuing dedication, vision and hard work, I have absolutely no doubt that you and I and those who will follow us will continue filling that very profound obligation as we face the future, not as individual services, but as joint warfighters," General Schwartz said.

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