An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | July 7, 2009

AMC commander visits Airmen in Southwest Asia, highlights mobility's role

By AMC commander visits Airmen in Southwest Asia, highlights mobility's role U.S. Air Forces Central combat camera team

Like clockwork, an Air Mobility Command aircraft departs on a mission within the area-of-operations every two minutes of every hour of every day.

Providing the three cornerstones of the command's mobility mission - airlift, aerial refueling and aeromedical evacuation - AMC Airmen have provided constant wartime support for operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Republic of Georgia and various other countries in the area.

"AMC is firmly in the fight," said Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of AMC, who is in theater visiting Airmen. "We are flying two out of every three sorties in the AOR, putting our three core capabilities of airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation on display every day."

The numbers are staggering. Since the 9/11 attacks, AMC officials have airlifted approximately 12.5 million passengers, delivered more than 4.5 million tons of cargo, distributed more than 1.5 billion gallons of fuel and performed nearly 133,000 patient movements.

Regarding the command's airlift operations, AMC Airmen fly roughly 900 sorties, moving nearly 2,000 tons of cargo and transporting nearly 2,000 passengers throughout the AOR daily.

"On the frontlines, air mobility is getting convoys off the road through airlift. AMC is decreasing the number of troops and vehicles on the roads, and helping defeat the enemy's improvised explosive device strategy and other attacks," the general said.

Ever-increasing demand for air mobility support continues to grow in Afghanistan as the focus continues to shift from Iraq as coalition forces there continue to perform a responsible withdrawal of forces from Iraqi cities and ultimately, Iraq in coming years.

"We play a vital role in the Afghanistan theater every day," General Lichte said. "It's a sliding scale in terms of as more overhead air performing close-air support increases, the need for more gas increases."

Though operations in Afghanistan are increasing, the responsible withdrawal of American forces from Iraq will require a great deal of effort for AMC Airmen in that country.

"Recently a deadline of spring 2010 was announced by Gen. James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, for the Marines to be out of Iraq," General Lichte added. "No doubt this will require an increase in airlift from AMC and once again, when called upon to assist, AMC aircraft and Airmen will be there to provide the airlift and support needed."

General Lichte also noted the Air Force's tanker fleet is more than 50 years old but is still counted on heavily in the theater, with planes offloading 440,000 gallons of fuel annually to nearly 230 receiver aircraft. The general attributes this to the efforts of the Airmen who support the air refueling mission.

"These Airmen are doing great work all over," he said. "Our maintainers are working hard to perform the maintenance on these planes to keep them flying."

Another critical function of the AMC mission is the aeromedical evacuation mission, which has flight-certified medical Airmen working aboard the command's aircraft to care for and transport wounded servicemembers throughout the AOR.

"Last month I took a C-17 out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on a flight to [Joint Base] Balad to see the aeromedical evacuation mission first-hand," General Lichte said. "The mission went so smoothly and I came away totally impressed with the crew, which was an Air National Guard unit from Jackson, Miss."

General Lichte also mentioned the support the team and the passengers received from the Joint Base Balad service members who showed up at the terminal in force to see them off.

"I was also moved by the volunteers who were at Balad and came out to applaud the wounded service members before we departed, it was amazing and definitely a rewarding experience."

Though supporting warfighters is a critical mission for AMC, humanitarian operations also play a significant role for the command.

"We also bring hope to the Afghan and Iraqi people," General Lichte said, referring to humanitarian operations Airmen perform in those countries. "When they see a big American flag on the tail of the aircraft, they know Americans are coming to bring them relief, food, doctors and other things; they know the U.S. people support them."

For the AMC total force team of 132,171 active-duty, Air National Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen, General Lichte has a message.

"I'm very proud of all the Airmen serving in these missions," he said. "They continue to fight every day and they are saving lives."