Lt. Col. Joshua “Doc” Holaday, moderates a discussion on last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan with Brig. Gen. Daniel A. DeVoe, commander of the 618th Air Operations Center; Col. Colin McClaskey, deputy commander of the 821st Contingency Response Group; and Col. Gregory Cyrus, commander of the 621st Contingency Response Group during the AFA Warfare Symposium on March 4, 2022. Watch the video or read the transcript below. This transcript is made possible through the sponsorship of JobsOhio.
Lt. Col. Joshua “Doc” Holaday: Good morning, everyone. I’m Lt. Col. Josh Holaday, I go by Doc. A couple years ago, I was a PACOM planner and I learned there that you learn who your true friends are, whoever shows up at the last day. So my good friends, welcome to the final symposium here today. I know your books say that you’re here for mobility, global reach for the warfighter. We’re absolutely going to talk about that. But we’re going to spend the first third to a half of it, though, deep-diving on Afghanistan. And when you hear who we’ve got on the panel with us today, you’ll understand why I am honored to have three mobility leaders here with us to discuss the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and lessons we can apply to future operations. It’s important to highlight the importance of today’s topic and set the scene for you in the audience in at home. The capability that undergirds America’s international diplomatic and military power is the mobility forces, from tankers to cargo aircraft to contingency response forces—and to the thousands of Airmen required to keep the mobility machine running every day. The US military simply cannot operate without global mobility. As you all know, the Air Force’s mobility forces sustain everything the US forces do from exercises and training events across the globe, to presidential support missions, to homeland defense every day. Most recently, Air Mobility Command earned international accolades for its efforts throughout the Afghanistan evacuation. If you need another reminder of the importance of logistics, take a look on the open-source imagery coming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Stunning. Looking to the future, Air Mobility will continue to play an essential role across the board. The Joint All Domain Command and Control, Agile Combat Employment CONOPS, global contingency operations in an ever-changing world, we do it all. Even after major US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended, we should expect no reduction in demand for rapid global mobility for the warfighter. That’s why I’m pleased to be joined today by three leaders who not only witnessed the Afghanistan withdrawal from various strategic vantage points, but are looking to the future of rapid global mobility. I’m pleased to be here today with Brig. Gen. Dan DeVoe, the commander of the 618th Air Operations Center; Col. Gregory Cyrus, the commander of the 621st Contingency Response Group; and Col. Colin McClaskey, deputy commander of the 821st Contingency Response Group. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining me today. The evacuation operation we saw in Afghanistan would later become the largest NEO operation in US history, successfully transporting over 124,000 qualified evacuees out of the region, and onto intermediate staging locations. To kick off this conversation, I’d like to give each of you a chance to make some opening remarks on Operation Allies Refuge and what you saw from each of your vantage points during these crucial days. And we’re going to start at the strategic level and get down towards the tactical level. So Gen. DeVoe, sir, you’re up first, Where were you during this operation? And what did you experience?
Brig. Gen. Daniel A. DeVoe, commander of the 618th Air Operations Center: All right, Thanks, Doc. And first, I just like to say thank you to AFA, our corporate sponsors and partners for hosting this panel today and the larger symposium, and to all of you both online and here in the room that of that have taken time to join us. So I get the privilege to be the commander of the 618th Air Operations Center Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. And we provide the command and control for rapid global mobility. So airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and the global air mobility support system to include the CR forces, the AMOW, the JI teams, the EAGLE teams, etc, they’re out there making mobility happen for the department events in our nation every single day. Typically, on a given day, we C2 about 1100 total force aircraft. And so that’s about 180 higher headquarters requirements out of that pool on a given day. Right now, there’s probably about 40 of those in the air somewhere around the world. And you’ve heard that a mobility aircraft takes off every, or lands every two and a half minutes around the globe. That provides us a tremendous amount of flexibility, and that’s steady state operational requirements in day to day competition. However, when a crisis occurs, we get to leverage that flexibility and bring to bear the rest of that Air Mobility power. And that was the case in August for OAR. So at that time, on that day, you know, mentioned 124,000 PAX moved in 17 days. Air Mobility Command moved about 75,000 of those, the CR forces on the ground that we were C2-ing, and that was led by Col. McClaskey here, to my far left, they handled and processed just about all of those. So Air Mobility touched the lives of each and every one of those individuals, as we prosecuted that fight. It was 329 C-17s in the course of that 17 days, that went into Hamid Karzai International Airport and subsequently back out with full loads of packs, but it was 2700 total mobility sorties in those same 17 days around the globe that affected this operation and enabled that to happen. So this was a mobility-centric operation. But it was a whole of government effort. It was a coalition effort. It was a joint effort. And it was by no means all TRANSCOM or Air Mobility. So nearly every aspect of the Air Force’s core capabilities touched OAR in some way. Same for the Space Force. You know, whether you’re talking about the overwatch overhead with strike assets, the ISR, the space capabilities that were enabled, the BOS-I Airmen, not just the folks operating at HKIA. But throughout nodes across the system, nearly every AFSC was involved in some way. And it wasn’t just the uniformed members. We had civilians on the ground, civilian family members on the ground in USAFE building tents, setting up infrastructure, preparing field food and meals, not only for our Airmen, but also for the evacuees coming through. So truly a total force effort and a tremendous accomplishment by the entire team. The one thing I will say though, it is also offered a tremendous opportunity to assess and to learn some lessons, not just for the next NEO, but for high-end competition, kinetic fight against a peer competitor. And if we don’t leverage those lessons and opportunities that we had from this great successful operation, then that will be a true tragedy. So my vantage point was from the Air Operation Center at Scott. And they were long days and my team was working hard to C2 all of those missions. But the two gentlemen to my left here were on the ground, dealing with those challenges in their raw form, day in and day out. So, Doc.
Holaday: Perfect. Thank you very much. As you said, Col. Cyrus, you’re on the ground from before the evacuation began. So can you tell us about your experiences out there?
Col. Gregory Cyrus, commander of the 621st Contingency Response Group: Yeah, first of all, thanks, Gen. DeVoe. Thanks, Doc. Thanks, AFA for having us today. So I was actually deployed as the DIRMOBFOR I was in place in AFCENT at the CAOC on one July. And because of my CR background and assets tasked from CENTCOM to employ an 0-6 JACE, and ensure the airfield services remained intact at HKIA, the CFACC in his role decided that I was the right person to go forward. And so they put me into HKIA on 6 August. I spent my first week over at the embassy doing JACE duties for USFOR-A. In that capacity. I had the opportunity to brief the JTF-CR Commander Gen. Sullivan at the time. His concern obviously was essential airfield services to make sure that the airfield stayed operational and viable. On 13 August, he decided that he needed to pull me back over to the airfield and perform my JACE duties from that location. We all know what happened obviously on 13 and 13-15th of August. The State Department declared NEO, the operation began. And then we started obviously, pushing the sorties into HKIA. I just want to make one point clear, HKIA was the only airfield and only runway in Afghanistan at the time, right. So very important that we maintain that hub, that spoke, whatever you want to call it, in order to ensure that the airlock remained open to get those evacuees out of Afghanistan. And so over the course of the next 55 to 60 hours, we know what happened, we had a couple invasions. Obviously, when the Taliban pushed into the city of Kabul, it forced a lot of the Afghans to flee into the airfield. Immediately, they saw US aircraft and coalition aircraft, and they said that’s my best opportunity to get out of here. So they fled across the runway at that point. At that point, obviously, I was lucky enough to have seven aerial porters from AFCENT on the ground with me and former Marine air traffic controllers. They’re at HKIA. So when we talk about multi capable Airmen, I can really get into what I saw those aerial porters do and what those Marines did for us to keep that airfield open over the next 55 hours. Obviously, we spent our time, I assumed senior forward authority from the Turkish forces there, and worked our best to get 82nd Airborne and so that they could secure the airfield and then get the CRG on the ground where we bought Col. McClaskey in.
Perfect segue, sir, you came in with the 82nd, or right before, or just after?
Col. Colin McClaskey, deputy commander of the 821st Contingency Response Group: Doc, thanks. And I want to echo everybody’s comments here. Thank you to everybody being here at the end of the day into the conference, it’s been a great conference and thank you to the AFA for putting all this together. So I’m at a very tactical point on this and most people that I’ve talked to said I participated in some way. And that’s awesome. Because to Genral DeVoe’s point, almost every AFSC did, and that included, you know, at the time I was in the Horn of Africa, on an assessment mission. I thought that was the most stressful mission that I was going to do in several years. And then I received a phone call, and a phone call said, You need to get out to Kabul—Afghanistan is collapsing. And this was the middle of, earlier on in August. But something else that matter, something that we do in a very smaller force is we have really good relationships. And Col. Cyrus listed a whole bunch of acronyms because he had so many different hats that he was wearing. And he mentioned that he was out there because he was the right person. He had a diverse background. He could speak air mobility, he could speak the connected system that we call GAMS, he understood the C2 system. And so the first call that I made was to Col. Cyrus, and he was still in embassy at the time and he let me know how dire the situation was from their assessment. And my hope was that the team that I had with me in the Horn of Africa could go forward. But that ended up not being the case. There were many plans. And I know Gen. DeVoe’s team had very well thought out deliberate plans for how this would happen. But everyone gets a vote, the enemy gets a vote. You know, you name it. Things are very dynamic. So I ended up going forward as fast as I could to fly on an Air Force Africa, AFAF-owned C-130 to Ramstein. And then that day, I jumped on the next C-17 coming through to fly out there. But it’s important to note that while we were overhead, it was a Guard crew out of California that that flew me out there with the team that happened to be passing through. We couldn’t land. I could see the ground. I’m on NVGs in the cockpit, sitting [inaudible] for any of the C-17 folks that know that. I can talk to Col. Cyrus on the ground on the handheld radio, but we couldn’t land. And we couldn’t land because we had an expert already on the ground, who was able to assess the airfield. And think about this when you’re thinking about ACE and future concepts. But having that expert on the ground, who’s able to look and say, This is not safe for MAFF aircraft land right now. We need you here, we need the people, not me, they need the rest of the people and the equipment that were that was on that aircraft with me. So something that’s unique that our country can do is, the system already had tankers out there, over Afghanistan, because there wasn’t anywhere else to land or launch aircraft, our CAFSC that was going on there needed fuel. So we were able to go to a tanker, but we still weren’t able to land. So we ended up diverting to the ‘Deid, landing, getting a new crew, and then going back as soon as the airfield open. From then on, I’d love to talk at length about what all those incredible multi capable airmen do day in and day out, and what they did at Kabul because it was absolutely incredible. But they did it alongside partners, allies, friends, locals that were desperate to get out to save their families, that kind of stuff. And it was it was really inspirational to see everybody come together in a situation like that, and, and take care of those people that needed to be taken care of, and make sure we could get as many folks out of there even if they weren’t going to go on beyond the Middle East. We could at least get them out of that dangerous situation.
Holaday: Oh, appreciate it. I know the Mitchell Institute and certainly AFA would love to publish your stories if you’re willing to write them down or get your execs to write them for you. But we as officers are paid not just to look back fondly on our experiences and praise our teams but to keep a wary eye on the future. So Gen DeVoe, this OAR clearly required a tremendous amount of logistics planning and real time movement oversight and effort that was led by your men and women in the 618th AOC. However, in a future fight against a pure adversary, and again, I’m a PACOM guy, so China, the battlespace will likely be even more chaotic, untested, unpredictable, and lethal than what we saw on Afghanistan. So what lessons is AOC learning from Afghanistan, and how will we use those to shape the future of command and control in a much more contested environment?
DeVoe: Oh, great, great question, Doc. And so there are many, and to my earlier point, as far as if we if we pass up the opportunity to assess what transpired here, that will be the true tragedy. And I’m proud to say that I don’t think we are. At the Air Force level, at the joint level, down-echelon, units at every level are looking at this. And so that’s great. So we have we a trove of lessons earned. And I’m not going to touch on all of them A point that Colin had made, right, we had a plan going in and there was there was an initial, the initial was we’re going to flow these folks straight out of HKIA all the way back to the States. And so on those initial deployments, we had air bridges stood up, we had a plan laid out time, and we had all the C-17 capacity, we needed to go all the way back. But this is a State Department led effort, right. And eventually that transitioned over to Department of Homeland Security. But DOD was supporting and providing a bulk of that lift of that effort. And so you know, that no longer became an option, we had to stop somewhere, we couldn’t take everybody back direct to the states. So all I’ll say about that is the flexibility that’s needed, right? Best laid plans, and to Colin’s point, everybody gets a vote, those votes start coming in, and you’ve got to adjust on the fly from the C2 standpoint. And that’s what happened here. Without going into too much detail, I will say there were three major adjustments from how we conduct and flow aircraft and operations during the course of this. But some of the significant, at a higher, more strategic level, lessons that we learned—and we’ve, we’ve held Lessons Learned conferences through the LeMay Center for the AF on this very topic that lasted days. So I’m going to cover this very quickly. Data management, and C2 systems integration into common automated systems. Not just to drive decisions at my level, but to inform as well, up and down echelon. And we need that for a number of reasons, right, sometimes just to satisfy interest, sometimes to drive higher level decisions, sometimes to inform lower level subordinates. So they have the situational awareness. And if we end up in an in a situation where mission command needs to kick in, they’ve got the latest context prior to that point from which to base their decisions and take charge and move out. And so that one was significant. The joint mobility enterprise has a robust set of procedures that aren’t perfect and could use some improvement, but that do work pretty well. But, not so much an Air Force equity, but holding our joint partners accountable to following not what are Air Mobility processes and procedures, and that’s how it’s commonly represented, but joint processes and procedures to deploy. And those 17 days, we deployed combat air power from intra theater from within the CENTCOM AOR, from the CONUS. And then we started flowing evacuees out. And then we started sustaining personnel, flowing supplies in. And then we did aeromedical, evacuation, all along, flowing evacuees out. And then we did redeployment and retrograde of those combat forces and CR forces in less than three weeks. And so that was significant. And there were times that we needed to be agile, we took off with forces from the CONUS. And while they were en route airborne, the user said, Nope, we want to go to this location instead of that. And what do I have on that plane. And so systems with the information, the ability to manage that data and make those adjustments on the fly, are absolutely essential. And in the spectrum of competition through conflict. Remember, this was a relatively benign environment. Clear command relationships. So this was a CENTCOM led effort for the DOD. But in practicality, not directed, not officially, this was really a US TRANSCOM effort, really, as a supporting commander, as I said, spread across five combatant commands three geographic, two functional. And so understanding that is important. Because when we talk about things like mission command, if commander’s at each of the nodes and steps along the way, would have been left to make—and I’m not talking about the aircrew level, I’m talking about higher echelons—to make decisions based on their individual circumstances. The mission would have failed because they were in some very difficult positions. And they had very legitimate reasons to try to drive in other directions. But that wasn’t in concert with our highest guidance and with what the mission objectives and goals were. And so that drives to the need for centralized C2. But our crews on the ground, the CR forces, the aircrew folks on the ground at Al-Udeid, were making decisions that went against the books, were making decisions that they normally wouldn’t make in routine days. They were executing mission command, and they absolutely needed to, and had the full support of the structure, and authorities over them to do so. And so we needed mission command. At the same time. If you were in the keynote address yesterday with Eric Schmidt, you heard him say, when the internet was developed, it was initially developed, you know, from a disaggregated point, a decentralized point, and then has become centralized. But we’re actually, what we need today is both. I will tell you, from my perspective, C2 is the same way you need both, and we need to be able to move back and forth. There are many other lessons, again, at echelon, at many different levels. In the interest of time, and I know we’re gonna touch on some more as we talk here. I’m gonna, I’m gonna pass it over.
Holaday: Thanks, sir. So you talked about mission command and decentralized execution. A key part of that is commander’s intent. So Col. Cyrus, you’re on the ground early. Did you have commander’s intent? How did you get it? And how effective were you and your airmen at executing that commander’s intent?
Cyrus: Yeah, I would say I absolutely had commander’s intent, obviously, be in the DIRMOBFOR working directly for the CFACC. I had daily touch points with him leading up to the operations at HKIA. So I clearly understood what needed to be done from a strategic and operational level. What I came to realize really quickly when I got on the ground at HKIA and went into those JACE roles, slash CRG roles, was that unity of command became a challenge at that point, because we had multiple general officer-led joint task force USFOR-A forward, 82nd Airborne Division. And we even had the Resolute Command, general officer, still on the ground there. So each and every one of them had their commander’s intent, but it ultimately came from the President of the United States. So we needed to keep that airfield open and viable and operational, so that we could evacuate the people that needed to be evacuated. We needed to ensure the essential airfield services, those that was charged directly from CENTCOM to AFCENT. Make sure those airfield services stay open. And unfortunately, when that first crowd of Afghans came across the runway and breached the runway perimeter that caused the NATO contracts to cease operation, right. So the air traffic controllers that are part of the NATO contract, the port operations, the ramp services, all those were civilian contracts managed by NATO. Unfortunately, because of that incident, they couldn’t stay on the airfield and continue doing those things. So commander’s intent at that point, then became, you need to get out there and keep that airfield open. You need to assume senior forward authority and we need to take those [inaudible] and those Marines and make sure that they can do multi capable ops. We had we had aerial porters, expediting aircraft, marshalling aircraft, we had the Marine air traffic controllers, obviously providing security of the ramp, at the same time landing aircraft and taking off aircraft, it was a pretty amazing thing to watch on the ground, being a leader there for the CR forces and for the operation that happened. Commander’s intent, obviously, you know, strategic, making sure the strategic mission of getting those folks out of HKIA happened, but then taking that down all the way to the tactical level and making sure that we got the 82nd Airborne on the ground, provided the aircraft the opportunity to land eventually and eventually get the the enablers on the ground too so they continue working airfield services.
Holaday: I appreciate that very much. Col. McClaskey, you raised a great point in a previous discussion you and I had, and I’d love for you to expound upon it for us. As a weapon school graduate, I’ve seen my share of Red Flag [inaudible] where the fighters go out and do their thing. A peer fight in the Pacific is going to be different. Can you detail for our warfighter audience how Red Flag is really hard and important, but the things that need to happen before a typical fighter ‘vol goes down, maybe should not be assumed to have happened in a fight in the Pacific against a pure adversary. What kind of hard work does an ability side of the house have to do before the guys and then pointy nose aircraft get to work?
McClaskey: Thanks. I think all that starts—the how do you prepare, I talked earlier about having the right expert on the ground who could assess the airfield. All that starts well in advance. And for the Pacific that started many, many years ago, looking at all the potential airfields and this kind of thing. You talk about Red Flag, how many times have we gone out to the same locations, the same chunks of airspace on the West Coast, right, or over the Nellis ranges, that kind of thing. Things to think about. That’s the easy stuff. It may seem hard, but that’s the easy stuff. The challenge becomes when you go into a complex and very dynamic environment. And that’s what we had in the Horn of Africa and then in HKIA. And so if we go back to our roots and what we’ve studied in doctrine on this, it talks about mission command and the principles there. You know, being that you have to have commander’s intent, mission type orders and adaptable mindset. But there’s something else that’s more important. And that’s trust. And we saw that with trust up and down the chain, that trust doesn’t happen because an event’s going on. That happens in the exercise in the workups, working with their coalition partners ahead of time, working out at Red Flag and maybe failing a couple times until you can figure out how to get through that. But there’s a whole lot more that was relevant to the scenario. How do you get to Nellis? Fly in early, you build up everything. How are we going to get to that island that was Hamid Karzai? We weren’t floating stuff in and we weren’t driving stuff in, it had to fly. So it came down to logistics, air logistics, the air bridges, and we weren’t going to do any of that without having the risk bogged down by the persistent ISR, by the satellite communications, the BLOS, beyond line of sight stuff that we had provided there, by the multiple stacks of combat aircraft, and ISR aircraft, and all of the folks on the ground, from the soldiers and the Marines to the coalition partners to those mobility experts that were able to assess it. But I would challenge you, when you’re thinking about any major exercise, whether that’s one of the flag exercises or even a smaller exercise, start thinking about, how do we get to the scenario? How do we get our medical teams here? What medical teams are going to be here? Are they trained to be here? Are they prepared for global reporting instructions or local reporting instructions? I know that’s something Col. Cyrus is big on, right. What about the air refueling? Where am I going to put my tankers? Am I gonna have enough fuel? Are they compatible with all the aircraft that are gonna be operating in this arena? What about the threat ring? Gen. DeVoe highlighted that as complex and uncertain as Hamid Karzai was when it came to airspace, we were not facing a peer threat. When you think about that, how are we going to get that the enablers in there for the assessment, to get our fuel in, to get our medical teams in, to get the global C2 nodes in there. So we work through a lot of those challenges, but those are things that I think we as a service need to if we’re not already doing that, I’m just not aware of it, start working towards integrating MAFF more into those exercises.
Cyrus: Can I just add one thing on, Doc? So when it comes to Red Flag obviously we launch, we prepare, we move out of Nellis as the main operating base. Why don’t we try opening Nellis as the main operating base and practice that with our ACE concepts, right, and then when they’re returning from the vol, hey, maybe Nellis isn’t available for the aircraft to land and rearm and refuel at that point, and we send them somewhere else and that just happens to be a spoke that our that our forces went out and opened.
Holaday: Concur. I agree completely with all those statements, which is why I asked you the question. I’m gonna ask both of these questions to this question to Cols. Cyrus and McClaskey, but mainly Col. Cyrus here. So a key part of ACE is the idea of the multi-capable airman, right? And it’s designed, originally at least, to reduce the number of people we have to push out the door and then sustain at those operating locations forward. When I first thought of this concept, I thought to myself, so the CRG, that’s what you’re describing, right? But there’s a catch. The reason the CRGs are so good at what they do is because they train and exercise all the time. That’s a pretty big bill for an average wing to pay. It’s probably too big of a bill for an average wing to pay. And so during the Afghan withdrawal what parts of multi capable airman did you see working successfully, and what lessons have you brought back to be tailored from average wings’ MCA training plans?
Cyrus: Yeah, thanks. Um, so in my mind, what makes a good multi-capable airman involves three pillars. One of those, obviously, is the multi capable aspect of it, right. We’re training somebody to be good in one AFSC and maybe have some basic skills and another AFSC. We call that cross functional skills in the CR. Pretty much any one of my CRG airmen can go out and operate a forklift or man a defensive fighting position and do other things to help manage the airfield in the safety, in the operations. Another thing we saw is expeditionary skills. We’ve got to get away from this mentality that we’re going to a main operating base, let’s say Yokota or Ramstein, for example, and we’re going to start working out of operations or locations that we haven’t been to. It could be a dirt landing zone in the middle of nowhere. Or it could be an austere international airport where we’re just at the request of the host nation. And we’re not going to have all those accoutrements that we’re used to when it comes to working at a main operating base. Right. So expeditionary skills come in, they’re critical at that point, right, we need to start building that mentality from the ground up. During our assumptions, we need to change the culture, we need to make sure all our airmen understand that from the from the get go. And then finally, one of the things that’s going to be an issue, I think, in my mind, for the mission generation wings, is going to be proficiency. You mentioned it right, we train and do this and in practice, and operate this mentality on a day to day basis in the CRGs, we are allowed to do that because that is our job in garrison, is to prepare and prepare for that mission. What we’re going to need to see when it comes to lessons learned coming out of HKIA is that those skills that we practice are eventually going to atrophy over time. And we’re gonna need to make sure that we provide the time and space for airmen that are that are working toward that multi capable concept to be able to go out and do that at a more frequent basis.
McClaskey: Can I speak up here real quick, because everything Col. Cyrus said is 100 percent spot-on. And I’m very thankful that we have big brains like that, that are thinking about the forward, how do we develop and get better at this. But I want to just pass on some of the amazing stories that I observed personally, with some of our airmen doing multi cable things out there at HKIA. And what I’m trying to avoid doing is saying that, if you’re multi cable or cross functional, that you can do that other AFCS’s job as well as they can, you cannot, every single one of us are M4, M9-qual’d, we practice with defensive fighting positions, all that kind of stuff. There’s a big difference between securing the airfield, which the Army and the Marines did a very, very good job of, and controlling that movement area that we’re so used to, right. You call tower for clearance to cross and all the stuff—they’re not used to dealing with that. They have checkpoints. I did not have enough cops. Full stop. I did not, to the point where the defenders that I had were doing an incredible job of trying to control the movement on the airfield. But I had other career fields who had basic weapons qual, defensive fighting positions, stuff like this. And so they had the training, that they could augment, that they could help reduce that risk to safety, reduce that risk of bending aircraft, or having someone get hurt on the ground during taxi or flight operations. So that’s what I think is necessary when we talk about MCA or multi cable airman, is being adaptable in your mindset, and being willing to support whoever that lead is. So whether that was the vehicle maintainer, that I said, we have a lot of commercial aircraft here, but I’ve got old Russian air stairs, and they don’t work, can you help. And they’re thinking about ways that they can get this to work. And they found that there was a local person there who had worked on these air stairs for a previous contract, and they got them connected in or whether it was aerial porters, who found themselves augmenting security details with the Marines on the gate. So those are just some examples where you don’t know what is going to be needed at the time. But the huge advantage we have are really smart Airmen. We train in a variety of things. And they remained very adaptable.
Holaday: One of the things you guys haven’t mentioned in your training is the basics. And that’s something I saw. We went and put F-22s in Palau in 2016. And the number one issue is a lack of shade and potable water, like stuff we don’t necessarily think about, but in the South Pacific is a basic. So the importance to get out there and train, we’re going to fight super, super important. General, I’ve got one more question for you. And we’re going to be out of time, I think, here. Obviously, we’ve talked a ton about allied and partner support internationally, either at HKIA on the ground or moving throughout the network moving across those countries. In the Pacific, one thing I’ve seen firsthand is that smaller countries are hungry for sustained US presence to help them offset Chinese pressure locally, usually economically. Because AMC conducts missions around the globe each day, and very few of our aircraft come with the security requirements of say putting an F-35 in a random country, what role do you think AMC’s AOC can play both in coordinate geographic AOCs and in working with allies and partners to strengthen relationships and increase US presence across the world? So if something with an adversary like China were to kick off, the US would be in better shape with regards to its allies and partners?
DeVoe: OK, great, great question. So one thing that’s foreign to me is this notion that allies and partners are something separate from who we are and what we do day to day. And so right now, in the AOC today, I’ve got a Canadian officer on the floor, who’s running airlift missions, helping run airlift missions since I’ve been there. I’ve had Aussies in my AOC assigned, working. Last couple of years had delegations from Japan, Korea come visit, tour through, interact among others, even in a COVID environment, because there’s an operational imperative for them to understand and to integrate and be able to do business with us. This week, not really supposed to be talking about current ops. This week, I’ll just say we’ve had three coronets, we’ve planned and executed. [Inaudible] foreign fighters. And none of that’s in support of the EUCOM effort. I won’t mention that for what’s going on there. We had an airlift mission being flown this week, earlier this week, by a coalition partner and I won’t name any names. They broke, it happens, I probably got a dozen just broken in the system right now. But the cargo needed to keep moving. And as soon as they realized that they weren’t going to get their fixed jet fixed in a day, we were able to bring a C-17 in, transload, this isn’t at a military base, this is at a relatively austere location, transload, get it up and keep that mission happening. That’s integrated, interoperable partnerships between allies, and our peer competitors, and adversaries, they don’t have anybody they can do that with. And we have a whole list of folks that we can do that with. We’ve got MSAS teams today in Africa, regularly down in South America. We do this day in and day out—not to say that we can’t do more, and that we don’t need to do more to integrate with our allies and partners. Because we do, we can’t rest on our laurels. But what all those examples are that I described there, that’s winning in the competition space. And that is an advantage again, that our adversaries do not have. And it was no different in OAR. And it actually got pretty complex too. So we had we had allies and partners flying with us who were fully into CFACC’s ATO. Right. And 609’s ATO. They’re running and you couldn’t, you didn’t, you couldn’t tell, just as smooth as could be. We had allies and partners who are running their own missions, if you will, but still able to integrate and Colin’s team interacted with and operate with. We had allies and partners who gave us capacity, whether military jets or commercial aircraft. And I didn’t mention our commercial partners were heavily involved in this and we activated the craft as well. But we had, they gave us capacity that we could schedule and use. They crewed and flew, but we could dictate. And then we had very loosely I’ll use the word partners or other countries, let’s use it that way, that showed up. And we’re involved in this operation as well that weren’t necessarily allies and partners. But our ability to see to and bring all of that together, or to just at least operate in the same space, was absolutely crucial.
Holaday: Gentlemen, appreciate that very much. Dear friends, we’ve come to the end of our time. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen today, and like the questions you’re getting out of guys like me, I urge you to go over to Mitchellaerospacepower.org. The Mitchell Institute is where I am currently working, but they do a great job of putting out papers and podcasts that talk to you, the Airman and Guardian out there in the force. You can subscribe to their mailing list and receive updates analyst reports events and podcasts etc. Reminder next up in Gatlin D where we’ve been doing the big events, they’re going to do the award ceremony and the Spark Tank next. But special thank you to Gen. Devoe, Col. Cyrus, McCloskey for joining us today as a great panel. Thank you gentlemen. Appreciate it.