ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 2017 Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium hosted here Oct. 26-29 focused on readiness, joint operations, multi-domain tactics and innovation to further develop the 125,000 Mobility Airmen.
The symposium featured multiple key note speakers from the Air Force and across the Department of Defense who focused on this year’s theme of “Mobility Airmen, Ever Present: Agile, Innovative and Ready to Roll.”
Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan’s opening address highlighted efforts currently underway to increase Air Force capabilities and grow capacity and readiness for the future.
“You are all the backbone of the American way of war,” Donovan said. “For decades the United States has relied on the global, strategic and theater mobility that you provide. You give our nation one of its greatest strategic abilities, the ability to quickly project power anywhere across the planet.”
Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, later introduced Gen. Robert B. Abrams, U.S. Army Forces Command commander, to introduce the A/TA audience to the effects AMC has on joint partnerships from the Army’s vantage point.
Abrams emphasized the importance of AMC’s mission sets to the needs of the Army.
“In 35 plus years of service, I have never been on a mission with Army forces alone,” Abrams said. “I’ve never executed a mission without the United States Air Force. We train and we fight as a joint team and that’s what makes us the best military on the planet.”
Abrams talked about relying on refuelers to execute Army missions saying that tankers operate in the same contentious space delivering critical air refueling support to joint coalition aircraft all over the world.
“Tankers enable the rest of the entire global flying joint force to engage precisely, attack globally and retain our air superiority,” Abrams said. “They, more than anyone, enable our operational strategic reach, which gives our country decisive advantage across multiple domains against any adversary.”
Referencing the story of an Army officer who suffered major injuries when his aircraft faced a malfunction that led to its crash, Abrams lauded the AMC aeromedical evacuation teams who provided the life-saving care needed to ensure he made it home.
Men and women in the Armed Forces know they will be taken care of if they sustain an injury on the battlefield and to them, aeromedical evacuation has a personal face, Abrams said.
“There is no room for error in our missions and we, as soldiers, know that when the chips are down, our Air Force will be there with us,” Abrams said. “Together we are the best in the world at what we do.”
Friday’s first keynote address was provided by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.
One of Goldfein’s enduring themes is squadron revitalization and the importance of empowering all levels of leadership in the decision-making process. Dynamic threat environments require agile action and decision-making.
“To me it's a warfighting imperative that we push the decision authority down, across our Air Force so that squadron commanders, who are entrusted with the mission of the U.S. Air Force, have the ability to make those decisions so that we're not only training like we fight but perhaps more importantly, fighting like we train,” Goldfein said.
Goldfein also discussed the need to understand and leverage various cultures to ensure mission success.
“Every service has its own culture,” he said. “We do our best work when all of those cultures are represented. We can build the creative options and the solutions for our Secretary and Commander-in-Chief that has the Airman's viewpoint in the dialogue. When we talk about building joint leaders and teams, it's understanding that it's no longer about our badges, it's about our obligation.”