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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gen. Everhart: State of Washington delivers training, power projection capability for America

Gen. Carlton Dewey Everhart II with Air Mobility Command Center answers questions during an interview at Fairchild Air Force Base on Monday, June 19, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Gen. Carlton D. Everhart Ii Commander, Air Mobility Command

In its 70th year of existence, the U.S. Air Force delivers an unrivaled power projection capability for America.

Our nation has come to expect America’s Air Force will always be there, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Whether serving as America’s insurance policy against would-be aggressors or as an “ambassador in blue” delivering relief and hope to those in need, the service is always prepared to handle any challenge with mission-ready airmen.

As a major investment in this capability to the nation, Air Mobility Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, developed Exercise Mobility Guardian. The exercise will prepare joint and allied forces to operate seamlessly and effectively in dynamic threat environments. The state of Washington is hosting the inaugural Mobility Guardian July 31 to Aug. 11.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Fairchild Air Force Base, along with the state’s McAllister Field, Yakima Training Center and Moses Lake areas, provide ideal locations to train U.S. and international forces. Mobility Guardian will enhance the skills and abilities of more than 3,000 total force – active duty, Guard, and Reserve – airmen, joint military forces and 30-plus international partners. The exercise focuses on the core mobility functions of aerial refueling, airlift, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. More than 40 mobility aircraft of all types, tanker and airlift, will be represented.

Exercise Mobility Guardian is crucial to national defense and readiness. Events like Mobility Guardian ensure mission-ready airmen and offer opportunities for discovery and learning before the world calls them into action.

Well-trained and -equipped airmen will always be needed to meet the nation’s call. While our airmen make the mission look easy, it takes years of continuous and quality training to deliver the precision and caliber of service or performance America has come to expect. Military readiness is key; its importance cannot be overstated. This major exercise will provide U.S., allied and partner nation forces the best training available in the ideal location represented by the state of Washington.

Simply put, the state of Washington represents a power projection platform for America. Pacific Northwest bases are strategically located and well-positioned to provide timely response, standing as a testament of U.S. resolve and global reach to other worldwide nation-state actors. Conducting Mobility Guardian in the state of Washington allows for exercise scenarios U.S. and partner forces or airmen may face – whether that involves humanitarian assistance, disaster response or delivering kinetic effects in combat.

Air Mobility Command’s role in national defense ensures America’s ability to access any point on the globe quickly and precisely. Mobility airmen are often the first to arrive and the last to depart. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Mobility airmen are engaged in rapid global mobility, with an aircraft taking off every 2.8 minutes. This capability is achieved by well-trained, expeditionary airmen conducting missions in 77 countries worldwide. It involves professional aircrew flying tanker and airlift aircraft, experienced medical professionals providing care to patients in-flight and dedicated maintainers skillfully ensuring an aging aircraft fleet remains mission-ready and prepared to go at all times.

Exercise Mobility Guardian training is driven and influenced by real-world events and service. Training scenarios will be drawn from lessons learned by Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 and Joint Base Lewis-McChord C-17 aircrews executing the fight against the Islamic State group and operations worldwide. KC-135 tankers, like those assigned to Fairchild, serve as the backbone of America’s global reach. Tanker aircraft continue to fuel 90 percent of the missions in the fight against IS. Mobility airlifters, to include the C-17 Globemaster III, ensure critical supplies and forces are available to combatant commanders around the world.

Aeromedical evacuation crews and critical care transport teams operating out of Fairchild will move patients on U.S. and international partner Mobility Air Forces aircraft, practicing a critical, lifesaving mission. Aeromedical evacuation forces support the full range of military operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The responsibility of enabling America’s global reach rests with Air Mobility Command. No matter what is going on in the world, one constant remains: the need to reach any point on the globe quickly and precisely. Exercise Mobility Guardian is one way to ensure America’s Air Force is always ready.

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II serves as commander, Air Mobility Command, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.