AMC Commander: ‘You are all heroes’

  • Published
  • By General Arthur J. Lichte
  • Air Mobility Command Commander
As my 38 years in the Air Force come to a close, I find myself reflecting on the great accomplishments made by mobility Airmen...past and present.

Ninety-one years ago we began developing the core competencies that define the Air Mobility Command (AMC) we know today. Beginning with innovations in aeromedical evacuation, our Command's heritage includes a long list of notable achievements, including the Question Mark's first flight and the Berlin Airlift. Over the years, air mobility has definitely been at the forefront of our nation's defense as it has continually delivered a clenched fist to its adversaries and extended the outstretched hand of hope to those in need.

Today, AMC is firmly centered in the fight. Every day, we send Airmen into harm's way to support Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM or to provide humanitarian relief anywhere in the world. Whatever the challenge, these men and women continually answer the call and perform their mission with incredible distinction and courage.

To further understand our mobility Airmen's unwavering resolve, just review the command's statistics from the past eight years. Since September 11, 2001, they transported nearly 13.4 million passengers and drastically reduced convoy requirements by airlifting 4.9 million tons of cargo within the Southwest Asia Area of Responsibility. They further paved the way for the speedy delivery of the first Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to Iraq and the first MRAP all-terrain vehicles to Afghanistan.

AMC has also fine tuned its capability to airdrop cargo into the battlefield's most austere locations with near pinpoint accuracy. In September 2009, a record 4.1 million pounds of cargo was dropped from the skies of Afghanistan. Thanks to our mobility Airmen, this frontline support offers combatant commanders the flexibility to resupply their troops regardless of location or circumstance.

Notably, the military's most important resources are the service members themselves. As a result, our nation promises to stop at nothing to remove an injured Soldier or Airman from the battlefield. During Vietnam it took up to 45 days to transport injured personnel back to the United States. During Desert Storm this time reduced to approximately 10 days. Today, these movements only take 72 hours, which has boosted survival rates to more than 95 percent.

AMC continues to expand its rapid response capabilities through the employment of Contingency Response Wings. These highly mobile organizations possess the equipment, personnel, and specialized training necessary to deploy and set up a support infrastructure for follow-on airlift operations. Aside from their wartime role, CRWs have delivered game changing results during humanitarian relief operations following hurricane's Gustav and Katrina.

Turning to air refueling, AMC's tanker force equips our nation with an unrivaled capability to project global airpower. Without tankers, our combat aircraft could not reach their targets nor provide persistent protection over those on the battlefield. Furthermore, their ability to extend the range of mobility aircraft yields immeasurable effects to humanitarian relief and aeromedical evacuation operations. We owe these phenomenal air refueling feats to the aircraft maintainers who spend endless hours keeping AMC's aging tanker fleet ready for duty. With KC-135 airframes now exceeding 50 years of age, our Airmen perform at least seven hours of maintenance for every one hour of flight to keep them mission capable.

Speaking of extraordinary accomplishments, AMC operates an average of 900 sorties every day. That equates to one departure every 90 seconds, and we do that 365 days a year. Sustaining an operations tempo like this takes a very robust team of professionals, and that is why AMC has teamed with its Reserve and Air National Guard counterparts. Through Total Force Integration we continually provide unrivaled global reach for America.

Our success does come at a price as evidenced by the many sacrifices of our Airmen and their families. While our people work long hours and endure time away from home, their families remain steadfast in providing unyielding support and care for our personnel as they make history every day.

Past or present, one thing remains constant...AMC is "all in!" Never forget that what you do is vitally important to our nation. Your contributions and sacrifices secure our freedoms, and for that I salute you and I salute your families. Especially in this Year of the Air Force Family, it is important to remember their sacrifices as well. I know my family has sacrificed over the years, but I think Chris and my children would tell you that we would do it all over again. In the years to come, know that the Lichte family will be cheering you on from the sidelines because you are all heroes, and I am very proud to have served with you.