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AMC commander discusses the future of Mobility Air Force at 2015 A/TA

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, Air Mobility Command commander, gives the closing address during the 47th Annual Airlift Tanker Association Convention and Technology Exposition and A/TA and AMC Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 31, 2015. The symposium served as a key professional development forum for Mobility Air Forces Airmen by enabling direct access to senior mobility leaders and fostering an environment encouraging open dialogue and honest discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell/Released)

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, Air Mobility Command commander, gives the closing address during the 47th Annual Airlift Tanker Association Convention and Technology Exposition and A/TA and AMC Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 31, 2015. The symposium served as a key professional development forum for Mobility Air Forces Airmen by enabling direct access to senior mobility leaders and fostering an environment encouraging open dialogue and honest discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell/Released)

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gen. Carlton "Dewey" Everhart, Air Mobility Command commander, delivered the final keynote address of the 2015 AMC and Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium on Oct. 31, addressing more than 1,500 Mobility Airmen and civilian partners in attendance.
 
This was Everhart's first opportunity to engage such a large crowd of mobility experts in one location on the past, present and future state of global mobility operations.

The general opened his remarks by thanking both key senior leaders and Mobility Airmen for their support and dedication, participation in the 47th A/TA gathering, and their role in history.

"Each Airmen has a story to tell. In fact, at this moment, you are writing a new chapter in our mobility story," he stated.

Everhart then explained it is Mobility Airmen and industry partners that allow "us to put an American flag anywhere in the world, at a moment's notice ... We are global mobility; we are Airpower."

He emphasized this by recounting what Mobility Airmen accomplished in the past year leading up to the convention. Since the 2014 A/TA symposium, the mobility machine maintained presence at all corners of globe.

Mobility Air Forces fought Ebola during Operation United Assistance; refueled coalition aircraft during Operation Inherent Resolve; moved equipment during the retrograde in Afghanistan; and provided humanitarian aid during Operation Freedom Sentinel.

The relationship between Total Force Airmen and industry partners makes this possible.

Everhart lauded A/TA as the perfect opportunity to combine the power of innovative Airmen with the resources of industry, which will ultimately effect the future of global reach. It is an ideal professional development opportunity for officers, enlisted and civilian Airmen.

"Rapid Global Mobility is essential to our nation's response, and there is a growing need for what we do," said Everhart. "And the key to the mobility enterprise, past, present and future, is well-educated and professionally-developed Airmen."

The A/TA symposium provides a platform for discussion about the future of Mobility Air Forces. "In order to shape our global enterprise we must face challenges, and find ways to succeed against overwhelming odds," he shared.

Innovation has played a key role in the past 70 years. Everhart explained innovative Airmen have beat overwhelming odds of lacking equipment and training to accomplish significant tasks.

He said, "Our nation needs Mobility Airmen to lead us to a future, where today's innovations will become routine."

Mobility Airmen have already proved successful. It was Airmen who helped design the C-5M Super Galaxy and C-130J Super Hercules. Everhart described the C-5M as a "game changer" in speed, payload and mission reliability. He called the C-130J one of the most flexible airlifters in the world, and posed the questions: "The fleet is in a good place right now, but what about the future? What will the C-X look like and what new capabilities will it bring?"

These are only a few questions remaining for Mobility Airmen to solve. They must also consider how they will train to prepare for the future.

"As the mobility fleet evolves, we must advance the way we train to maintain readiness. We need to get more bang out of the training dollars we have. And, when we exercise, we have to do it with joint and international partners, just like we did with Talisman Saber ... [which] showcased exactly what rapid global mobility can do."
This mission was different from other joint training missions, as paratroopers jumped after a 16-hour trans-Pacific flight. The joint, total force delivered 450 paratroopers over a vast stretch of ocean, with limited en-route support structures. "Rapid global mobility makes that happen."

The general then addressed the critical role tanker aircraft play in such missions. The KC-135 has been the bedrock of the refueling mission for nearly 60 years. Since the Vietnam era, tankers always fueled the fight.

In December of this year, the Elite Six Zero crew answered an alert call to support troops in contact in Afghanistan. Within an hour, their KC-135 was airborne. For six hours, they conducted air refueling with multiple aircraft at night, in mountainous terrain, while encountering enemy fire. They provided life-saving support for coalition ground forces, and enabled medical evacuation of a critically-wounded Soldier.  "Every one of those Airmen changed the lives of the troops on the ground."

The general continued, "The demand for tanker gas is high and isn't limited to the Middle East."

For this reason, tankers must always be ready for all missions, especially those in a contested environment. "The KC-46A is a step in the right direction. Advanced avionics and communications equipment, which will increase situational awareness for operators so they can get closer to the fight," he stated.

According to Everhart, gaining access to airspace is only one of the challenges. It is important to establish a ground presence, which can be accomplished by mobility expeditionary response forces.

Five months ago, 621st Contingency Response Wing Airmen opened an air base in Anbar Province, Iraq. Forty-two Airmen from 10 different backgrounds came together to successfully open the airfield, offloading 14 aircraft and more than 125 short tons of cargo in the middle of the night.

"[All of these missions] happen because of our very talented Airmen," Everhart said. "You control a global [area of responsibility], with aircraft taking off every two and half minutes. It happens because of you."

Despite the skill and capabilities of Mobility Airmen, sometimes the unthinkable happens.

Gen. Everhart took a moment to pause and reflect on the aircrew of Torque 62 from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, who lost their lives after a C-130J crashed in Afghanistan on Oct. 2. He said, "I take comfort knowing that AMC Airmen who have gone before us were there to welcome them home with open arms."

Everhart pledged to do everything in his power to save as many lives, whenever possible.

"A lost life is a harsh reality in our line of work. But, we've made vast improvements to save more lives ... The survival rate of patients has increased over 20 percent [in the last 25 years] because of Airmen," the general stated. "We will go to the end of the earth, and spare no expense to save one life."

Everhart told the story Staff Sgt. Taylor Savage, a combat medic, who was injured in 2013 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, while supporting Army partners. Within 48 hours, she was evacuated from Afghanistan to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Md. "Airmen from our tactical critical care evacuation team and air transportation teams watched every heartbeat along the way," recalled Everhart.

He elaborated: "Staff Sgt. Savage will be the first to tell you that machines and airplanes didn't save her. People did."

Savage was present during the speech, and made an appearance on stage, which yielded a long, energetic standing ovation from the audience.

Then, Everhart surprised her by arranging an onstage reunion with the two combat medics she deployed with - the friends who helped save her life - Staff Sgts. Maria Szymanski and Amber Frederick. The crowd rose again in applause, commending the members' bravery and to support their reunion.

Everhart concluded his first appearance at A/TA with some food for thought.

He asked, "Do you understand the impact your job has on the lives of others? How will we use directed energy, hypersonic, nano-technology or remotely piloted aircraft? Are the answers in the technologies that the next tanker or airlifter will utilize, or will they use something that hasn't been imagined yet?"

Everhart concluded, "The people in the audience will determine what AMC looks like tomorrow. Airmen will develop the next airlifter, the next tanker, and will continue to save lives."