APRIL 3, 2017, JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS) – Nearly 45 congressional staff members representing legislators from across the United States attended the 2017 Rapid Global Mobility Airpower Orientation hosted by Air Mobility Command here March 31, 2017.
“This airpower orientation is an opportunity for us to educate those who represent the American people,” said Brig. Gen. Jon Thomas, the director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs for Headquarters AMC.
During the orientation, congressional staff members saw C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft static displays and learned about the Air Force’s only contingency response wing during a ground demonstration.
Subject matter experts from AMC and crews from the Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing and the 436th AW from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, discussed C-130 and C-5 modernization while providing the congressional staff members an aircraft tour.
The C-5 modernization program includes upgrading the avionics to improve communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management compliance as well as adding new safety equipment and installing a new autopilot system. The program, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, also involves modifying C-5A/B/Cs into the C-5M Super Galaxy by upgrading to the F-138 commercial engine. This engine delivers a 22 percent increase in thrust, a 30 percent shorter takeoff roll, a 58 percent faster climb rate and will allow significantly more cargo to be carried over longer distances.
“The C-5M modernization program provides the American taxpayer exceptional value,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, the AMC commander, during the orientation’s opening remarks. “Recently, one of these aircraft flew from Travis Air Force Base, California, to Yokota, Japan. It’s the only airlifter in the inventory that can make the flight nonstop, which means we can put the American flag on the ground in hours versus days.”
Subject matter experts discussed fleet utilization with the Congressional staff members at the 305th Air Mobility Wing’s C-17 static display.
Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, provided a ground demonstration to explain how they rapidly deploy anywhere in the world to deliver capabilities to points of need.
“AMC’s expeditionary Airmen maintain a presence at 77 locations in 22 countries around the world; and enable all nine combatant commanders, every day of the year,” Everhart said. “They enable global access for our allies and joint partners … often they are the first in and the last out.”
Discussions with AMC subject matter experts helped increase the congressional staff members’ overall understanding of AMC.
“[The CRW’s mission] is incredible,” said Kristen Johnson, a legislative fellow from Sen. Tom Cotton’s office. “I didn’t realize how many components – from language capabilities to intelligence – went into the mission.”
While touring the C-17 static display, congressional staff members also spoke with aeromedical evacuation teams from the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here and the 43rd AES from Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and received a firsthand look at AMC’s aeromedical evacuation mission.
Congressional staff members learned about the Transportation Isolation System, which would aid in removing joint service members from harm’s way should a worst-case scenario outbreak occur.
“The TIS is an amazing capability,” said Dave Judson, a defense fellow from Sen. John Cornyn’s office. “To provide that level of care in that [quick] response time all over the world is amazing.”
“Aeromedical evacuation is a tremendous mission priority,” said Everhart. “I will divert cargo, fuel and delay missions to save one life. … If we can get a patient to high-level care in the first ‘golden hour’ they have a 98 percent chance of survival.”
From aeromedical evacuation to building bases from the ground up, the 2017 Rapid Global Mobility Airpower Orientation provided congressional staff members with a behind-the-scenes look they might not receive otherwise.
“If the tanker isn’t there, all those other things that are done by fighters and bombers just don’t get done,” Thomas said. “When you go forward to an expeditionary airfield somebody’s got to be there for those airlifters to land, offload their cargo, and get back out of there. … All of those mission sets may not be readily visible to a congressional staffer or member who is just serving their constituents, but if we can give them something that they can [latch] onto that’s what makes this worthwhile.”
The orientation also gave congressional staff members the opportunity to meet the Airmen behind the mission.
“Every single one of those crew members has their own individual and unique story about how they contribute and how they have contributed throughout the world,” Thomas said. “We call them war stories, but they can be peace stories – they can be humanitarian assistance stories or they can be no-kidding, hair-raising combat stories. But, all of those stories at the human level resonate.”
By Senior Master Sgt. April Lapetoda, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs