By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
March 17, 2010 - One of the U.S. military's greatest advantages over its adversaries is its ability to move an enormous amount of people and equipment quickly anywhere in the world, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command told the House Armed Services Committee today. Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb said he was honored to represent the 145,000 people who make up Transcom, which he called "a unique partnership" of active duty and reserve components, federal civilians, contractors and commercial partners.
"It is the crown jewel in our national strategy and gives us our true global reach," he said of the command's logistical capabilities.
"Together, we are an unrivaled, global team operating an integrated, networked end-to-end defense distribution system, providing logistics superiority when and where needed," he added in prepared testimony to the committee.
Transcom works in coordination with the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, the Navy's Military Sealift Command, and the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to provide military and commercial transportation, terminal management, aerial refueling and patient movement across the range of military and humanitarian operations around the world, McNabb explained. Last year, Transcom airlifted more than 2 million passengers and 750,000 tons of cargo, while its tanker fleet delivered 230 million gallons of fuel to U.S. and coalition aircraft, he said.
To support the war effort, Transcom deployed and redeployed 36 brigade combat teams; 34,000 air expeditionary forces and eight security force packages, and moved Marine expeditionary units, and Army Stryker and combat aviation brigades in support of the Afghan elections, McNabb said. The command is responsible for delivering an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by August, while redeploying more than 40,000 out of Iraq this summer, he said.
In 2008, Transcom improved logistics into the Iraq and Afghan theaters by standing up the Northern Distribution Network, in partnership with U.S. Central Command, U.S. Pacific Command and the departments of Defense and State, McNabb said. Last year, 80 percent of equipment into Afghanistan came through the network, he said, calling the routes "a key strategic alternative to the congested Pakistan ground lines of communication."
The distribution network secured routes across northern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus region to allow shipments by commercial air, ship, truck and rail, McNabb said. The network has delivered 8,100 containers since March 2009, and has delivered more than 2,600 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, he said.
Coordination is the toughest challenge, McNabb told the panel, noting that the command supported the unforeseen humanitarian mission to Haiti while continuing its work in drawing down forces and equipment in Iraq while supporting the build-up in Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan is a particularly tough place to get into," he said. "It has the highest mountains in the world to get into, and some very interesting neighbors. We need to make sure that our forces not only get in there, but that they have everything they need."