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TransCom Faces Deployment Delays After Hurricane Season

Members of the 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit board a plane before a deployment at the flight line at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on April 7, 2016. Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim/Air Force
Members of the 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit board a plane before a deployment at the flight line at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on April 7, 2016. Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim/Air Force

A busy hurricane season amid ongoing worldwide deployments hit Transportation Command — the U.S. military’s global defense transportation system — hard, the head of the command said Wednesday.

“We have a finite force when we talk about logistics and transportation across the board,” Air ForceGen. Darren W. McDew said during an Air Force Association breakfast on Capitol Hill.  

“We don’t have the assets we need to do everything around the world at the rate that we do it,” he said.

And that includes current plans to boost forces in Afghanistan.

McDew said the Pentagon had to prioritize hurricane relief to multiple areas, including Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after a string of storms.

Last month, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the Pentagon’s Joint Staff Director, warned that those efforts would delay some deployments to Afghanistan.

“There has been a slight delay,” and “it will take time to build up the force in Afghanistan,” he said at a news conference.

McDew confirmed the ongoing delays.

“We are now maybe a week-and-a-half or so in delay or a few days in delay,” he said following the reprioritization to the hurricane relief mission.

In the global transportation business, McDew said delays are somewhat standard. “However, if you are on the receiving end of those delays, it’s a big deal. So I take every one of [those delays] seriously.”  

He said elevating the command and a healthy budget environment would help streamline the process.

“The not-so-cool part is that nobody knows who we are,” McDew said during his speech, referring to TransCom, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

He continued, “We’re a global force. I’ve tried for a long time to actually get my term changed from functional combatant command to global combatant command. I believe the changing character of war and the way we face it today will define the challenges of our time.”

He added, “If you ask me the question, ‘Do we have enough?’ the answer is, ‘Maybe.’ But what do you want me to do?

“It doesn’t matter if you have the most lethal military in the world if you can’t get it where it needs to go,” McDew said.

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