Air Mobility warriors gather for AT/A Symposium
by 1st Lt. Larry van der Oord
From highlighting some of the Air Force's young leadership award winners to discussing many important issues facing Air Mobility Command today, the 37th Annual Airlift Tanker Association Convention and Symposium touched on all aspects of air mobility.
The convention, themed "Air Mobility: Lifeline of Freedom and Hope," was held Oct. 27 through 30 in Nashville, Tenn. A group of more than 3,500 of the nation's finest air mobility professionals, including a contingent of nearly 50 from MacDill, gathered in the Music City for the yearly event.
The convention brought together ATA members from across the country where air mobility issues were discussed during professional symposiums, seminars and briefings throughout the duration of the convention. The convention was also highlighted by an impressive array of aerospace industry exhibitors displaying everything from models of the newest mobility aircraft, to the latest in all-weather tactical gear.
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, set the tone for the conference during his opening address to the crowd.
"We face the future not as individual services, but as joint war fighters," said General Schwartz. "Future conflicts will be joint endeavors with all the services acting interdependently."
When taking questions from the audience General Schwartz also commented on the rising cost of fuel and its effect on operations.
"We need to be smart about how we operate because fuel is dollars," he said. "However there are some things worth doing."
One of those things included recent missions in which C-5 Galaxy aircraft delivered CH-47 Chinook helicopters to areas devastated by the earthquake in Pakistan, said General Schwartz. Though the effort was costly, the rapid airlift of the helicopters into Pakistan was critical to saving hundreds of lives.
Following General Schwartz's opening address, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, took time out of his busy schedule to provide the keynote address.
"The Airmen of our past have left us a proud heritage, and air mobility is a big part of that heritage," said General Moseley commenting on the ATA legacy.
General Moseley also praised the many achievements of the air mobility community during the past year including the many humanitarian and relief missions in response to the recent tsunami, hurricanes and earthquake.
Throughout the convention, attendees had the opportunity to sit in on a variety of different seminars. The first seminar of the event, "OIF/OEF Effects-based Tanker Ops: More Fuel Offloaded, More Bombs on Target," focused on the enhanced utilization of KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender and Coalition aircraft. The increased capability in flying skills learned in OIF and OEF led to a significant increase in capability. This enhanced capability translates into more flexibility, better ground support, extended coverage for hostile areas and greater ability to strike targets.
Another convention highlight was the question and answer session with a panel comprised of eight active duty and retired general officers. During the open forum session, the panel fielded questions on a number of different issues including force shaping and the possibility that too much paper work and red tape may be inhibiting operations in the Air Force.
Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, AMC commander, wrapped up the formal portion of the conference with his closing address.
"It's great to be back in AMC," said General McNabb. "I have been gone for six years, but all of you know where my heart has been."
General McNabb spoke about several different issues facing AMC. One of the most pressing issues being the continual tasking and leverage of aging equipment in the AMC fleet.
In order to maintain air mobility capability that is second to none, work must be done to modernize equipment, said General McNabb. The collective commitment should be to modernize airlift he said.
General McNabb said the ATA conference in general helps bring home the idea that we are facing the Global War on Terrorism together.
"We have been trusted with a great legacy," he said. "We must honor it, cherish it and most importantly, protect it."
The ATA has chapters and members throughout the world. Association membership is open to anyone including active duty, reserve and retired military personnel, both officer and enlisted, as well as civilian and industrial supporters of the air mobility mission. Those at MacDill interested in joining can contact Maj. Teri Consoldane, chapter president here, at 828-7852.