18th Air Force's road to success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice
  • Air Mobility Command vice commander
I took command of the 18th Air Force from Maj. Gen. Scott in August 2009. The first thing we were told by Gen McNabb, the then commander of the United States Transportation Command, was to make it a three-star, war-fighting headquarters, and we did that.

And the thing I am most proud of was to see the transformation of 18th Air Force from what was essentially relegated to an ADCON roll, which had great people, but was only manned to write OPRs and serve as general court martial convening authority, and we transformed it into the headquarters whose job it is to set the enterprise for success.

It was difficult trying to command during the transition time when we had 19 wings, 21 direct reporting subordinate organizations, which was a huge span of control. In addition, the only operational staff we had were Reservists and Guardsmen on man days.

There was a famous moment during Haiti operations which occurred about six months after taking command, and we were trying to stand up the enterprise and set that enterprise for success. My limited staff and I had to think about how we were going to support Haiti.

The biggest thing that happened on my watch was when we became a war-fighting organization. It was huge. March Madness was incredible. We finally could execute the way we did.

We were able to assist the globe and ensured we had the enterprise set to sustain a significant swap out in Afghanistan and the Mid-East, Libya, and the response to what was going on in Japan as a result of the Earthquake, Tsunami, then the subsequent meltdown of the nuclear reactor, and all those things happened at the same time. Every one of them is huge. We were able to that all at one time and orchestrate it from that headquarters. That was pretty cool.

We couldn't have done it without the wealth of knowledge and capability the Reservists and Guardsmen brought with them. We used them like crazy. They were our lifeblood day to day and any time there was a crisis.

I am proud to have been part of that transformation and glad to say it is still growing.

Happy 10th Anniversary, 18th Air Force.