WASHINGTON, August 27, 2015 — As Air Force Gen. Darren McDew took U.S. Transportation Command’s reins during an assumption-of-command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted the general’s credentials for his new post.
Carter said McDew’s teachers recognized his potential, and that later, when leaders named him regimental commander at Virginia Military Institute, the general’s commitment to service became a hallmark of his educational and professional journey.
“For more than three decades in our Air Force, whether at the squadron, wing or group level, General McDew has stood out for his uncommon ability to lead,” Carter said, adding that the four-star leader brings “an understanding of military logistics from the inside out” to the command, which provides for the Defense Department’s mobility needs around the globe.
A Tested Operator
“He is a tested operator who has logged more than 3,000 hours on tankers, C-17s and C-130s, and delivered critical support and supplies to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on several continents.”
In providing the flexibility and mobility to execute missions globally, much of Transcom’s strength, Carter explained, stems from its ability to evolve, adapt and respond quickly to new challenges and demands.
The secretary recalled that while serving as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, he saw firsthand how Transcom supported deployed troops who toiled during the ramp-up days in Afghanistan.
“It was one of the most difficult places in the world to wage a war,” the secretary said. “It has … some of the most forbidding terrain imaginable, limited transportation system, and landlocked to boot.” And yet, Carter said, U.S. forces were able to surge forces and build hundreds of forward and contingency bases during a period of heated conflict.
But Transcom’s complex logistical orchestration, once dubbed the “Afghanistan miracle,” now must morph strategically into preparation for meeting challenges from high-end adversaries, which he said will require major logistical lift.
Reform, Innovation Are Critical
“As we reduce our focus on counterinsurgency and place more emphasis on full-spectrum, rapid response capabilities, Transcom’s ability to reform and innovate will become more critical,” Carter said.
The secretary’s ongoing Force of the Future discussions have highlighted examples of technology and innovation, and he reported that Transcom already has improved its capacity to track deliveries in real time and predict with greater accuracy the arrival of shipments.
“These reforms have allowed our forces in the field to plan more effectively and efficiently and help bring costs down,” the secretary said.
Transcom also has strengthened and streamlined efforts with private sector providers, Cater said. “By finding new ways to use existing commercial infrastructure, by spurring greater competition among private sector partners, Transcom continues to make our operations more cost effective,” he added.
The command’s commitment to expanding these reforms remains vital, and with good reason, Carter said.
Value for the Taxpayer
“As we deliver for the warfighter, we have an obligation to deliver value for the taxpayer as well,” he said, noting the importance of Congress allowing a budget for Transcom that charts a responsible course and invests in its people. “When we’re forced to make irresponsible cuts, it’s readiness that suffers first,” The secretary said.
Carter commended McDew’s breadth of experience. “Through serving as military aide to the president and as vice director of strategic plans at the Pentagon,” he said, “he has developed a keen, strategic understanding of the judicious and effective use of American power.”
But McDew’s stalwart commitment to the enrichment and development of what he described as the military’s most valuable asset — people — is what distinguishes him among leaders, Carter said. He noted that as McDew assumes the vital command, he succeeds Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, now the 10th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“That the president has nominated some of our most distinguished military leaders to assume this command speaks volumes about the vital importance of Transcom and its people,” he said.
Whether enabling the United States to lead a global Ebola containment effort in West Africa, helping the United States to save lives and provide urgent relief to Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq or delivering 70,000 pounds of rescue operations supplies to Nepal after its earthquake, Transcom ensures American power can reach anywhere, Carter said.
“We know the people of Transcom will carry forward a steadfast commitment to deliver what our force requires, whenever, wherever they require it,” he added.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter @LyleDoDNews)