Air mobility builds, sustains partner nation capacity in era of irregular warfare

20 Jul 2009 | Roger Drinnon

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of five articles on Air Mobility Command's role in Irregular Warfare and related nontraditional operations.

Irregular Warfare is nothing new for Air Mobility Command, which is well-suited for this type of operation. The command has been involved in making this mission a success around the globe as our Nation works to promote its soft power.

The command's unique capabilities to combine its contingency response elements, airlift, air refueling, and aeromedical evacuation enable the United States to reach any nation on the planet, but are especially useful in landlocked countries or those lacking robust infrastructure, as we find in many areas where Irregular Warfare is particularly useful today. This capability can also be seen when AMC is called upon to provide rapid humanitarian relief in the aftermath of a natural disaster or other crisis. The command can respond on a moment's notice.

"Irregular Warfare is about them (partner nations), not about us," said Ralph Van Wagner, AMC mobility analyst. "We strive to prevent conflict by enabling partner nations to be self-sufficient and to be valued members of the international community." He also stated while Irregular Warfare typically is defined as a protracted form of warfare among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence, it also involves the full range of military and other capacities. And, this is where AMC comes in.

Applied in concert with joint, coalition and partner nation measures, air mobility often provides a non-violent, non-kinetic means to achieve peace and stability in modern, nontraditional environments, to prevent insurgents and terrorists from initiating, exacerbating or manipulating unnecessary conflict. AMC's mobility analysts note that air mobility's non-kinetic aspect, where neither a shot is fired nor a bomb dropped, not only provides hope to people all over the world, but also often helps alleviate conflict.

Several recent examples of AMC's direct involvement in Irregular Warfare have come to the forefront.

A C-17 aircraft and Airmen made possible the delivery of a 26,000-pound Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine to Argentina in June.

In another example, an AMC C-17 and crew, operating in conjunction with U.S. Southern Command, delivered 30,000 life-saving H1N1 influenza prevention kits to six South American countries this past May.

Additionally, at the request of the Pakistani government, two C-17s delivered 40,000 packaged meals and 25 large tents for internally displaced people in Pakistan's Northwestern Provinces, due to the recent conflict there.

In January, AMC sent a contingency response element and its aircraft into Sudan to deliver 75 tons of heavy equipment, including water tankers, fuel trucks and other oversized cargo in support of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Darfur.

These are but a few examples of how AMC's own organic capability made these operations a success. The command can and does support any user, any mission, anywhere.

AMC mobility analysts emphasize their long-term goal is to achieve self-sufficiency among partner nations. However, until this desired end-state is achieved, the command remains postured to assist with these operations.

"Air Mobility Command plays a key role in Irregular Warfare as the United States works to improve its relationship with and strengthen its partner nations or to simply provide hope to those in need," said Lt Gen. Rusty Findley, AMC vice commander. He said it's important to recognize the command's capabilities are not only vitally important in supporting operations involving kinetic solutions, but also those that involve non-kinetic ones or soft power.

Everywhere an AMC aircraft lands with its prominent American Flag on the tail, it sends a signal of our nation's commitment and support.
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