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Senior Leaders, Airmen Gather to Focus on Mobility Mission

Gen. Darren McDew talks about the Airmen, global mobility, and the Air Force core values during the Airlift/Tanker Association Conference and Symposium Nov. 1, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tristin English)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- More than 1,400 Air Force senior leaders and Airmen from across the mobility enterprise attended the 2014 Airlift/Tanker Association and Air Mobility Command Symposium from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The symposium gathered total-force Airmen and civilians, community leaders, and industry experts to promote education, understanding, and professional development in the mobility air force's mission.

This year's theme was 'Air Mobility: Accomplished by Professionals - Skilled and Respected.' Retired Gen. Arthur Lichte, former AMC commander and current chairman of the Airlift/Tanker Association, set the tone by expressing his priorities: supporting mobility airmen, preserving the air mobility culture, and strengthening our bonds. 

The event was host to several senior leader keynote speakers, including Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James; Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody; U.S. Transportation Command commander Gen. Paul Selva; AMC commander Gen. Darren McDew; Chief of the Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James Jackson; and Director of the Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III. 

A common theme among the keynote speakers was the message for all total-force mobility Airmen: "Thank you for what you do."

The senior leaders had laudatory remarks for AMC's recent operations, which include the 12 million pounds of cargo moved out of Afghanistan over the last 50 days by deployed C-5M Super Galaxies, as well as the humanitarian support mobility forces have provided, delivering more than 100,000 meals and 46,000 gallons of water over the last few months. Additionally, the leaders commended mobility air forces for their air refueling support to nearly 500 airstrikes against terrorists. According to the senior leaders who spoke at this year's symposium, these were just some examples of the successful feats by mobility forces throughout 2014.

"You did this without skipping a beat -- and never getting a break." James said. "It's a total-force effort to make these things happen; mobility forces are the bedrock of Air Force operations."

James also added that mobility airdrops broke ISIL's siege of Mount Sinjar, saving more than 20,000 Yazidi people.

"This was your Berlin Airlift, and you performed admirably," she said.

Cody also had high praise for the mobility fleet. 

"There is no place on the globe that this Air Mobility Command can't get an Airman or where we can't get equipment," he said. "We stand on your shoulders. You are truly giants. Our Air Force is the most globally engaged Air Force in our nation's history. What you do has meaning."

Selva offered words of praise for the command’s Airmen in the room. 

"I trust mobility Airmen because they provide solutions," he said. "We have run over 100 missions (in support of Ebola relief), all because mobility Airmen have opened the door to a relief effort that will save hundreds of thousands of lives. This air mobility team is unstoppable."

All keynote speakers lauded the total-force effort in current operations.

"You use the total-force team to accomplish things that no other military in the world can do," Selva added.

Jackson said more than 5,000 Reserve Airmen are supporting rapid global mobility daily, as well as providing local support at home stations supporting firefighting missions, amongst others.

"Your Air Force Reserve is doing just as much as the active duty," Jackson said. "Seventy-five percent of current reservist joined after 9/11. This gives me the confidence that we (have the right people) to do these mission sets."

The National Guard Bureau's director highlighted the Air Guard's seamlessly-integrated capability as a proven choice for the war fight, an enduring choice for security cooperation, and the first choice for homeland operations. 

"Guardsmen are always on mission," Clarke said. "You could be overseas defending your country and then come home and have to support a national disaster in your home state."

Across the three main of the AMC symposium, dozens of seminars were offered, focusing on professional development of mobility Airmen from around the globe. Topics covered everything from current operations like airdrops in Iraq, to "new normal" budget realities, to the outlook and recapitalization efforts for the current and future tanker fleet.

One seminar was dedicated to an update on one of the Air Force's newest organizations, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), which will have a direct impact on every installation. The center was officially activated under Air Force Materiel Command Aug. 8, and will serve as the single intermediate headquarters for the delivery of installation support capabilities.

According to Col. Brian Duffy, the AFIMSC (provisional) vice commander, the unit's focus is to provide responsive, seamless support to installations, while reducing overhead and costs at the major command level. AFIMSC will consolidate functions now performed individually at each of the 10 MAJCOMs, which will help eliminate redundancies in support to Air Force bases.

As the final keynote speaker for the symposium, McDew provided closing comments and wrapped up the multi-day event. 

"You deliver more than just military power,” McDew said. “In ways both obvious and subtle, you underpin American diplomacy. You are our mobility professionals and Air Force leaders."

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