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New AMC commander discusses command's future

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (USTCNS) --- As the final speaker during the Airlift/Tanker Association convention here Oct. 29, Gen. Duncan McNabb looked out at the immense crowd that included retired Air Mobility Command and Military Airlift Command members, thanked them for leaving such a great legacy, and then outlined his plan to improve upon it.

"The torch has been passed," he said. "We have been entrusted with a great legacy. We must honor it, we must cherish it, we must protect it and most importantly, we must add to it."

The general said he is excited to command AMC at such a critical time in the nation's history, and he cited many developing and proven changes that will improve the command's ability to protect America.

Some examples include improved concepts of operations, including Joint Distribution Port Opening; the need for a light cargo aircraft; proven Total Force and expeditionary organizations; and, most recently, the separation of command between AMC and U.S. Transportation Command.

He said the separation was necessary since each command has grown in importance and ability.

"Both of the commands were growing in criticality and importance, and basically, the 'organize, train and equip' of AMC complements superbly what the USTRANSCOM role is (as the Defense Department's distribution process owner)," he said.

General McNabb said the separation will allow him more time to focus on AMC-specific issues, such as fleet modernization and recapitalization.

"We are in this [Global War on Terrorism] for the long haul, and we've got to continue to do this better," General McNabb said. "But you look at our fleet and we must modernize."

When it comes to airlift, "one size doesn't fit all," he said. He said that AMC needs a way to move intra-theater cargo to Army battalions more efficiently. He said the joint light cargo aircraft would provide the right-size plane for the small loads that are frequently moved - with considerable extra space - by C-130s and C-17s.

To improve inter-theater airlift, he said he sees the need to continue to improve the force with more C-17s, more C-130s, and the C-5 avionics modernization program.

General McNabb stressed that AMC members need to transform in order to continue providing contingency and humanitarian aid and accomplish more with what they have.

The general said there are three parts of transformation: organization, concept of operations and technology.

AMC has already reorganized itself to be more effective, General McNabb said, citing the success the 18th Air Force's contingency response groups had following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Another key example is how AMC's aeromedical evacuation mission is organized, which allows the command to effectively run the entire process.

General McNabb said transforming mobility CONOPs requires looking at every aspect of operations, as well as ways to enhance AMC capabilities. In addition to fleet modernization and recapitalization, this requires looking for and finding critical nodes that can be improved, often with huge value.

Technology transformation means developing defensive systems that will allow AMC to use different aircraft in different ways, according to the general.

"[Defensive systems] will allow us to free up and maximize the use of assets and put the best asset against the mission," he said. "Right now we are restricted in doing that sometimes."

He cited current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and how AMC had to use aircraft with defensive systems to keep people safe, even though the specific aircraft weren't always the most optimum for the job.

In closing the conference, General McNabb stressed what AMC has learned during the Global War on Terrorism.

"We've never had such a combat-ready force," he said. "We know what works and we know what doesn't work, so let's fix it. Let's get on with it. Let's move into the future. It's going to be exciting times."

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