As we transition into 2018, I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank the local communities that support the men and women of our Air Force and Air Mobility Command.
Our airmen consider you friends, neighbors and members of the team. We live side-by-side, send our kids to the same schools and attend the same churches. When our airmen are called upon to deliver their expertise and mobility capabilities to the world stage, they do so knowing their families are being well taken care of back at home.
Thank you for that.
Last year was an incredibly busy one for the command as the world continued to test our ability to respond and deliver airpower, relief and hope to those in need.
We are busier now than we’ve ever been. About every three minutes, a Mobility Air Forces aircraft takes off somewhere around the world. When people see the American flag painted on the tail of our AMC aircraft, they know we’ve come to help. That’s what we call “Gray Tail Diplomacy.” At any given time, at all points across the globe, there are AMC aircraft and airmen delivering American military diplomacy, values and resolve.
To help ensure our ability to respond when needed, last year we launched Exercise Mobility Guardian, a mobility focused, large-scale training opportunity that brought together more than 3,000 personnel from 30 countries. The goal was simple: Provide the most realistic, real-world and scenario-driven training our command has ever seen and to test our core capabilities of Airlift, Air Refueling, Aeromedical Evacuation and Air Mobility Support. The exercise was a perfect example of how AMC is continuously preparing to defend our nation under any circumstance and against any adversary.
That training paid off during last year’s busy hurricane season, when we actively supported relief efforts with nearly 1,500 flights delivering 28 million pounds of supplies to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. During that same time, AMC flew three relief missions delivering critical care supplies and personnel in response to multiple earthquakes in Mexico.
Airmen of the 618th Air Operations Center and 18th Air Force, located here at Scott Air Force Base, served as the central planning hub for those humanitarian efforts, enabling air transportation of vital relief supplies. Mobility airmen supported Texans by airlifting supplies evacuating critical medical patients, reopening airfields and providing aerial refueling all before shifting focus and pushing supplies and forces to the communities battered a short time later by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
At the same time, on the other side of the world, the Islamic State, or ISIS, met U.S. resolve every day. U.S. tankers and coalition aircraft partnered to fly thousands of sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, ensuring continuous pressure on ISIS and other extremist organizations.
Air Mobility Command’s worldwide reach is foundational to mission success. We have the ability to react on a moment’s notice, anywhere in the world. Whether the call is for humanitarian assistance in the Pacific or to build a refueling air-bridge across the Atlantic Ocean for F-35As deploying to Europe, AMC is ready.
In 2018, we will welcome the KC-46A, the refueling aircraft that will provide our joint and coalition partners with enhanced capabilities. We will also continue to innovate beyond our core mission set by enhancing partnerships with our local communities and by increasing our role in local area schools. We will look to get our pilots, maintainers, and other skilled Airmen into the classrooms to inspire the next generation of aviators, mechanics, and defenders of freedom, enhancing educational experiences along the way.
Again, thank you for your support from the men and women of Air Mobility Command. Your partnership is vital to our success and we are eager to build on it in 2018!
Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II is the commander of Air Mobility Command, which is headquartered at Scott Air Force Base.