Sabtu, Maret 20, 2010

Combatant Commanders Want C-130s for Afghanistan

Following a successful demonstration in Iraq, commanders in Afghanistan are going to request more C-130 aircraft to be used for time-sensitive, mission-critical cargo delivery, the U.S. Army's top logistician said.

"We're about to get a request for it," Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, said .

After the 2010 budget decision transferred the Joint Cargo Aircraft and its mission to the Air Force, the Army and the Air Force wrote a new concept of employment for how the aircraft would be operated now that it would no longer be in the Army's inventory.

Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pledged that the Army would not suffer in terms of support because of the decision, "and the Air Force would be just as responsive as if we owned the aircraft ourselves," Stevenson said.

That new concept of employment was tested in Iraq, using the C-130 as a surrogate for the Joint Cargo Aircraft, last October through December.

"It worked just like we wanted it to," Stevenson said.

After the demo, the Army told commanders in Afghanistan that it could relieve some of the burden being placed on CH-47 Chinook helicopters, which are seeing record use in theater, by providing more C-130s, Stevenson said.

"The last I checked, the Air Force has about 400 C-130s and we have less than 50 in Southwest Asia today," he added.

During a video teleconference about a week ago, commanders in Afghanistan said that the idea made sense to them and they are going to send a request through U.S. Central Command, Stevenson said.

Once a request is received, the approval could happen in a matter of weeks, he said.

"Then the question would be how quickly can the aircraft be called up," Stevenson said. "We're talking about probably reserve crews - Air Guard crews - because the Air Force doesn't have a lot of active-component C-130.

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