McNabb Passes Transcom Command to Fraser
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011 Presiding today at the change of command at U.S. Transportation Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey hailed a logistics enterprise Panetta called the backbone of the U.S. military.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hands the U.S. Transportation Command flag to Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III after he assumed leadership of the command from Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb during the change-of-command ceremony on Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Oct. 14, 2011. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb passed command to Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III during the ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Panetta praised McNabb for his leadership of a support structure upon which he said every other military operation depends.
“Very simply, … we could not do our missions and defend America without you,” he said. “No one goes anywhere, no one fights anywhere, no one stays anywhere without your support.”
The secretary cited the scope of that support last year alone. Transcom conducted more than 37,000 airlift missions, transported more than 2.3 million passengers by air and 29 million short tons of cargo by air and sea. Meanwhile, it kept combat units in both Afghanistan and Iraq supplied with food, fuel and spare parts, moved troops into the combat zone and evacuated the wounded.
Troops in the field “don’t ever need to worry about whether or not they have what they need, because you never stop delivering,” Panetta said.
He praised McNabb’s vision in establishing the northern distribution network through which nearly half all ground cargo now flows into Afghanistan.
Dempsey recalled that during his tenure as acting commander of U.S. Central Command, he saw McNabb’s efficiency in setting up the network to better support the Afghanistan mission. McNabb also introduced innovative air-dropping procedures to ensure troops in remote sites had all they needed while reducing the risks associated with ground convoys.
“We really are the only military in the world where, if we call for something, if we ask for something, if we need something on the battlefield, we are going to get it,” the chairman said. “And about nine times out of 10, it will get there because of Transcom.
“We consider you the strength of our forces,” he said of the Transcom team. “We couldn’t be the armed forces we are without them.”
Panetta noted that while Transcom provided “truly extraordinary and unceasing” support to these and other military operations, its members jumped into high gear whenever disasters struck around the world. The secretary rattled off examples of humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts made possible by Transcom: the Haiti earthquake; the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan; floods in Pakistan and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, among them.
“This command, under their great leader, stepped up and delivered,” Panetta said.
Panetta called Fraser a “proven and effective leader” who brings a wealth of experience to the job as he follows in McNabb’s footsteps.
McNabb, who is slated to retire Nov. 30, told Fraser he is taking command of “the best of the best.”
“You are being entrusted with one of our nation’s greatest asymmetric advantages: the strategic ability to move,” he said. “You have a championship team behind you, and I know you will be great.”
Fraser said he hopes to build on McNabb’s momentum as takes command at a challenging time – with continued high operational demands as well as new fiscal ones. Living up to them, he said, will require the entire Transcom team that has earned a reputation for getting the job done.
“Transcom, you deliver,” Fraser said. “It’s not the planes. It’s not the trains, the ships or the trucks that make amazing things happen. It is the people. You are the lifeline of the warfighter.”