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18th Air Force: Perspectives on a Legacy of Excellence

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Editor's note: From September 2011 until August 2012, Lt. Gen. Mark F. Ramsay served as the 18th Air Force's sixth commander after the command's reactivation on Oct. 1, 2003. His thoughts represent the latest in a series of perspectives from former 18th Air Force commanders on the 10th anniversary.

What did you consider the most important impacts and proudest achievements of your command?

I think the best way to frame my tenure is that 18th Air Force helped implement or further refine several key aspects of the global mobility enterprise. Early in my tenure, DoD's only nuclear airlift unit failed a crucial Nuclear Surety Inspection. I am very proud of how this unit and Air Mobility Command/18th Air Force responded by delving into every aspect of nuclear surety and "fixing" the single problem area that caused the failure, as well as leading other necessary changes to the broader DoD nuclear enterprise. 18th Air Force also matured in its capabilities, staffing and training to enhance the leadership and management of Task Force 294 as well as key multi-modal force rotation operations from locations in Europe, the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

What was the toughest challenges you faced?

Like all operational military headquarters, one of the greatest challenges is anticipating what's around the corner or over the horizon. As the day to day Air Component of US Transportation Command (AFTRANS) tasked to bridge the gap between strategic and tactical operations, 18th Air Force is organized to plan for the next crisis or contingency. This is critical to national success because mobility forces are almost always the first to respond, and we work very hard to plan for almost every possible operation in advance. Prior 18th Air Force Commanders continued to develop and enhance a streamlined and flat global command and control structure to both plan and execute the global mobility enterprise. While we will never be able to anticipate every operational challenge, 18th Air Force has gotten much better over time at looking around corners and over the horizon.

What are your thoughts on 18th Air Force's evolution over the last 10 years?

I've had the great fortune of watching 18th Air Force mature since reactivation in 2003 and fulfill its key role as the day to day AFTRANS. The Air Force's largest NAF has continued to innovate and adapt to changes in global operations, requirements and resources to ensure current and future success. Internal to the headquarters, the addition of core A3, A5 and AFFOR Integrator staffs enable the command to plan and set the operational enterprise. Within Air Mobility Command, the changes since 2003 that have led to the current 18th Air Force and Expeditionary Center command construct are the result of logical and necessary evolutionary change. I'm looking forward to watching future enhancements in 18th Air Force as we work to make it even better, and I'm proud to have commanded this superb organization.