ORLANDO, Fla.--Reminiscing on heritage, taking a mission tour around the world and ending with a personal fireside chat were a few of the ways Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, addressed Airmen during the closing remarks at the 2017 Airlift/Tanker Association SymposiumOct. 28, here.
The A/TA Symposium spanned three days and featured keynote addresses from Air Force and Department of Defense leadership, as well as 36 seminar sessions covering various AMC career fields and operational programs.
Everhart emphasized the importance of including junior Mobility Airmen as he considers the event as the premiere professional development opportunity for Airmen to learn from one another.
Everhart kicked off his address highlighting RGMN+T and events from 2017. He explained how this acronym normally covers the phrase “Rapid Global Mobility Now” or more specifically, “Readiness, Growth and Development of our Airmen, Modernization and the Nuclear mission set.” He modified the acronym adding a “T,” to represent the need to focus on the future of the command or what is required to ensure the success of “tomorrow.”
“That tomorrow is you,” said Everhart. “The superheroes out there are you. That is you – our legacy, our future. It’s about innovation. It’s about where we want to go on this journey together.”
Everhart stressed the significance of readiness highlighting the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein’s address the day prior.
Everhart said that AMC is on the radars of potential near-peer adversaries because they understand that mobility is the foundation of heartbeat that ensures the nation’s missions get done.
He spoke about the need for enhanced growth and development of Mobility Airmen, including programs like Phoenix Horizon and Phoenix Stripe, which focus on development of company grade and non-commissioned officers.
Earlier this year, Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, Air Mobility Command command chief, worked with the enterprise learning team and created a superintendent course to continue the idea of developing those who will be mentors and leaders to future Mobility Airmen, he said.
Touching upon the need for innovation and modernization, he stated the opportunity A/TA affords AMC to work with industry partners. He noted the innovation of the Phoenix Spark program and how it gives Airmen a voice and outlet for creativity. The focus on innovation and building industry relationships supported AMC focus area and need to be ready for tomorrow.
Everhart’s emphasis on modernization included the C-5M conversion, the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program one and two programs, the new Block 45 in the KC-135 and that the KC-46 that will soon be here. He challenged Altus AFB and McConnell AFB, the first two KC-46 locations to be ready to receive the mission and set the foundation for how AMC conducts air refueling in the future. He also pointed to the AMC’s significant role supporting the nuclear mission set and the need to be ready for the high-end fight of the future.
Everhart noted the need to think beyond the possibility of today and prepare the force of tomorrow. He discussed the need to reduce mobility aircraft radar signatures, the exploration of lasers on mobility aircraft, and the need to adapt to survive in future threat environments. He thanked Mobility Airmen who are showing drive and initiative when it comes to their career fields and making the mobility enterprise better.
“That’s our young kids’ minds, sitting right here, and getting it done every single day,” said Everhart. “Without me even asking, they’re just empowered to get it done.”
Practicing how we fight
Everhart took the audience on a trip across the globe demonstrating AMC’s worldwide missions.
He mentioned Washington State, the site of the inaugural Mobility Guardian exercise. The scenario-based training involved 650 sorties, 3,600 participants, 243 aeromedical evacuations, 356 jumps by soldiers and 1.3 million pounds of fuel passed. There was a 94.4 percent mission capability rate at the exercise due to maintainers’ involvement.
Everhart said that Mobility Guardian ‘17 focused on learning new tactics, techniques and procedures, and that he wasn’t concerned about moments of failure as long as Mobility Airmen were learning.
In total, 30 nations participated, as AMC worked alongside not just joint and coalition partners, but also industry and AMC civic leaders.
“We learned about camaraderie and we learned from each other,” he said. “We learned what it’s like for our teammates to come together in joint, coalition warfare and how we can do things better. That’s what it was all about.”
In an example of Total Force, Everhart told the audience about an aeromedical evacuation mission in which the team needed to move critically wounded service members from Germany back home to the United States. However, as they were preparing to go, a neonatal intensive care unit was a part of their flight. They needed to stop in RAF Lakenheath, England, to pick up a baby. If that baby didn’t get the critical care it needed, the baby was going to die.
“They looked at their watches, they looked at the days, they looked at the times and they go ‘we can do this,’” said Everhart. “They took off from Germany and Lakenheath and they had to fight eight hours of weather, airfield closure, re-coordination, getting things done and the end of this story is that they made it. All the way across. The critically wounded soldiers are living today and that little baby is doing just fine.”
He told another story of how a critically injured service-member was able to say his final goodbyes to his family. He reinforced how moments matter stressing how the AE crew did everything possible to make sure a final reunion with the soldier’s family happened.
Everhart spoke on how many Mobility Airmen truly embody the idea of service before self and how the individual talents of these Airmen are remarkable. He stressed that the moments experienced in an Airman’s life matter and make a difference to others.
Extending the reach
Everhart offered vignettes detailing the importance of contingency response and how Mobility Airmen were available whenever, wherever needed to establish airfields in Baghdad and other areas in the Middle East, no questions asked. A team of 52 Airmen then went to Syria and dug an airfield out of limestone making it possible to deliver 3,200 short tons of cargo and 1,450 passengers to enable the ability to take the fight to ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.
Everhart believes that when those Airmen are reminiscing with their grandkids one day, memories will be based on not what they did in the war, but rather what they prevented from happening in that war.
Pull up a chair
The AMC commander leveled with Airmen by means of a fireside chat of sorts addressing concerns the command has been facing, and that Mobility Airmen need to know that what they do matters, their voices are heard and that their feedback is being heard.
“I don’t want you to have to walk away from the Air Force because you had to choose between your job and your family,” Everhart said. “I don’t want you to have to walk away at all. I want you to be able to have those choices in your hip pocket so that you’re able to make healthy choices. I want you to be on my team.”
Everhart explained that some of the required change will take time, comparing the command to a large aircraft and that it takes a small amount of change and a small amount of time to turn a rudder that ultimately drives the desired effects.
“I do ask you to stay on our team,” he said. “I need you. We need you. Our nation needs you on our team. We just can’t get anybody else. Your experience is forged in combat. You are the ones who’ve solved problems when faced with them through innovative tactics, techniques and procedures.”
He closed his address asking the audience why they serve. He shared his motivations that stem from his family and pride in serving. Through the AMC heritage, its global missions and innovation spurred on by Mobility Airmen, Everhart expressed his pride in the command and the importance of each individual member in being a part of this team.