Index

STATEMENT OF GENERAL CHARLES T. ROBERTSON, JR. USAF
COMMANDER IN CHIEF
UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION COMMAND

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for affording me the opportunity to address the committee on the role the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) played during Kosovo operations, and to make you aware of our observations and lessons learned. First, I want to thank the committee for its strong and continuing support of the Defense Transportation System. Your efforts have not only helped sustain a ready force of the right people and equipment, they have also played an important role in our being able to continue to answer the Nation’s call, on short notice, anytime, anywhere. Recent operations in and around Kosovo challenged us to go places and to do things in ways we had not been challenged before. Thanks to your support, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians of USTRANSCOM were not only able to answer the call, they were able to do so superbly.

Simply put, USTRANSCOM’s mission is to provide air, land, and sea transportation in support of our National Security objectives--in times of both peace and war. To accomplish this daily global mission, USTRANSCOM relies on the resources of its three transportation component commands: the Army’s Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC). To achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency, this mobility triad, in turn, leverages both a superb blend of active duty, reserve and civilian professionals, as well as the strong partnerships we have built with the commercial transportation industry. It is the increasing synergy of this team, coupled with the strong support of those who provide and comprise our forces, that has helped ensure USTRANSCOM’s ability to rapidly meet its taskings and to be able to respond to any challenge, anytime, anywhere in the world.

Although USTRANSCOM is constantly, and heavily, committed around the globe and across the spectrum of National Security operations, we are always mindful of our vital "core" mission: readiness to support the regional CINCs in their prosecution of two nearly simultaneous Major Theater Wars (MTWs). The strategic mobility capabilities required to support this requirement are defined in the 1994/1995 Mobility Requirements Study Bottom Up Review Update (MRS BURU). Currently being updated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff in MRS-05, MRS BURU identified significant deficits in our Nation’s ability to meet oversize and outsize airlift cargo requirements. The MRS BURU analysis, in fact, led to a decision in 1995 to significantly modernize the Air Force’s strategic airlift fleet. And, with the support of our service components, we are making good progress toward achieving that capability; basically a one MTW force now, designed to serve two nearly simultaneous MTWs. Against that backdrop, I report today on the success of that "in transition" force in meeting the Kosovo challenge—and on the lessons we learned from the Kosovo operations.

OVERALL OBSERVATIONS

In reviewing USTRANSCOM’s role in ALLIED FORCE, several key observations and lessons learned require special, up-front mention.

Observation One: Kosovo was not the classic military conflict, pitting one massed military force against another. As a consequence, as the operation unfolded, NATO identified a number of disparate mobility missions and requirements to be filled. In the face of that uncertain and rapidly evolving environment, I can only describe the flexibility demonstrated and support provided by the USTRANSCOM team to ALLIED FORCE as magnificent!

Observation Two: ALLIED FORCE was a "tanker" intensive conflict, requiring nearly an "MTW" sized tanker aircraft and aircrew force--over 160 tanker aircraft and over 300 aircrews--to support the 78 day round-the-clock bombing operation.

Observation Three: The C-17, as it did in Bosnia, and in a host of contingency operations since, once again proved its tremendous value to the air mobility equation. Not only did the aircraft demonstrate daily its outstanding Continental United States (CONUS) to theater direct delivery capability into austere airfield environments, but its intratheater capability was once again highlighted as one of the true keys to mobility’s success. Add to that the contributions of the remainder of AMC’s strategic intertheater airlift fleet of C-5s and C-141s providing time-critical movement of key materials, personnel, and supplies (including precision munitions), as well as MTMC and MSC’s Herculean efforts in the transportation of huge stocks of munitions, supplies and equipment, and it’s easy to see that the combined success of ALLIED FORCE was due, in large part, to the highly effective surface, air and sea movement capabilities of USTRANSCOM and its components.

Good news aside, USTRANSCOM’s ALLIED FORCE successes were not without challenges…and lessons learned. I will mention three here, up front, and cover them in more detail later in this statement.

Challenge One: As we have observed in almost every contingency and war game since the end of the Cold War, the level of intensity required in modern air operations requires a significantly higher KC-135 tanker crew ratio than we have been able to afford since the "Berlin Wall" days when the KC-135 crew ratio was set at a 1.36/1.27 (Active Duty/Reserve) crew-to-aircraft ratio. Early during ALLIED FORCE, the supported CINC requested a ratio more on the order of 1.8 to one to support longer tanker missions. This generated considerable turbulence in both our planning and execution efforts. More on this later.

Challenge Two: Although we were able to overcome the C-5’s shortcomings with "mass" in ALLIED FORCE, its mission capability (MC) rates continue to raise "Red Flags." Expected, by MRS BURU, to operate at a 75 percent MC rate in our "two, nearly simultaneous, Major Theater Wars" National Security Strategy scenario, the C-5’s MC rate through Allied Force hovered around 60 percent…and has declined to 56-58 percent since. This significantly reduced capability not only requires extraordinary work-arounds in peacetime, it portends significant shortfalls should we ever face a classic MTW strategic airlift requirement. I will get into another level of detail on this significant concern later in this statement.

Challenge Three: The hostile skies over Kosovo presented a threat to air mobility aircraft and crews that we have only recently begun to recognize…the "tip of the iceberg" of a threat we see growing in significance in future contingencies. In short, a highly effective air defense system coupled with the proliferation of Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADs) forced air mobility planners to seek alternative, inefficient routings around threats due to the lack of on-board defensive systems to combat the threat.

Despite these challenges, and I can’t say this emphatically enough, the outstanding professional soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians in MTMC, MSC, and AMC performed brilliantly. As we write the history of ALLIED FORCE, and chronicle the tremendous success of politics, weapons systems and weapons, I suggest that among the most significant contributions we must record are the sacrifices that the participating men and women, and their families, endured in support of our National Security objectives.

AIR MOBILITY LESSONS LEARNED

At the commencement of Operation ALLIED FORCE, USTRANSCOM’s primary support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States European Command (USEUCOM) was through the strategic deployment of combat and combat support aircraft from the CONUS to the USEUCOM area of responsibility (AOR). In this phase, AMC established a robust tanker "air bridge" across the Atlantic to deploy both combat aircraft as well as strategic airlift aircraft tasked to transport accompanying personnel and equipment. Additionally, AMC deployed a significant number of additional tanker aircraft to Europe, transferring operational control of these assets to the U.S. Commander in Chief (CINC), Europe. During this phase, MTMC and MSC also began to deploy what was to become a steady flow of ammunition via sealift from CONUS, through European ports, onward to NATO airbases.

As NATO’s air campaign intensified, the pace of combat and combat support aircraft deployments increased commensurately, along with the requirement for supporting air tankers in Europe. At the same time, the changing nature of the operational environment in and around Kosovo presented us with three additional missions in support of NATO and USEUCOM. The first, Operation ALLIED HARBOR, involved support to the humanitarian efforts associated with providing relief to refugees fleeing Kosovo. The second, an extension of ALLIED FORCE, was deployment of Task Force (TF) Hawk from Central European and CONUS bases to Albania. Finally, as the air campaign ended we were tasked to support a third additional mission: Operation JOINT GUARDIAN-—the deployment of NATO’s peacekeeping force via air, land, and sea into Kosovo. In effect, we were beginning new deployments, in a crisis action environment, at the same time we were transitioning to sustainment of an existing deployment within the same region. These simultaneous requirements were challenging to USTRANSCOM’s planners, as I suspect they were to other supported and supporting staffs. But, as I suggested earlier, this is the nature of our business today…and it promises to grow only more complicated in the future.

By cessation of hostilities, AMC had deployed a nearly

"MTW-size" air refueling force of 160 aircraft of AMC’s total strategic tanker fleet to support NATO and USEUCOM. Our tankers operated from 11 bases in Europe, mainly in support of combat and combat support aircraft in and around Federal Republic of Yugoslavia airspace.

In recent contingency operations, Air Force tankers are increasingly dedicated as intratheater assets in support of the air campaign. During ALLIED FORCE, Air Force tankers, placed under the operational control of USEUCOM, performed nearly 7000 missions, greatly extending the range and "station time" of United States and allied combat aircraft. An additional 654 strategic air refueling missions were performed in support of deploying units. There are some in NATO and EUCOM who refer to the deployed tanker force as the campaign’s "most valuable player." Future air campaigns will require at least commensurate tanker support.

The strategic environment has changed since the Cold War when most of our tankers were dedicated to support the strategic bomber fleet. As described earlier, one lesson we learned in Kosovo, and unfortunately not a new lesson in this "post-Cold War" world in which we’re operating, is the fact that our current air tanker crew ratio of 1.36 (1.27 for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve) is inadequate to sustain the pace of modern, high intensity air operations. ALLIED FORCE required a higher crew ratio than is normally planned, which essentially drove our early request for a Presidential Selected Reserve Call-up (PSRC) of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve aircrews and maintenance personnel. For USTRANSCOM, a decision to request PSRC is not a "business as usual" proposition. A request for PSRC is an extraordinary decision, made with full knowledge of the great sacrifices we know it will demand of our dedicated "citizen soldier" teammates and their families. From our perspective, a PSRC can be characterized as a withdrawal from our "rainy day" savings account…an action not taken often, or lightly. The actual impact of the Kosovo reserve component recall is still to be determined. It may have significant impacts on retention and recruiting; or based on popular support for the war in this country, and the relative short length of the recall, it may be minimal. Time will tell. Even so, AMC’s currently ongoing Tanker Requirement Study is exploring alternatives to our tanker aircraft fleet size and crew ratio challenges.

As suggested earlier, from an airlift perspective, ALLIED FORCE did not significantly stress our organic airlift system, even though, proportionally, more materiel was deployed via organic air than we anticipate in our normal MTW planning exercises. For example, during DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, 9.4 percent of dry cargo was deployed via organic airlift. For ALLIED FORCE, the figure was 67 percent. I attribute this heavy reliance on airlift to the quickly changing nature of the operational environment and the austere transportation infrastructure in the region. As a data point, AMC flew 1,108 strategic airlift missions in support of Kosovo operations: 205 in the C-5, 104 in the C-141, and 799 in the C-17. An additional 66 commercial airlift missions were also flown.

The importance of our C-5 fleet was highlighted again during Kosovo operations. Although C-5s flew only 20 percent of our overall strategic airlift missions, they were critical in moving outsize equipment along the "long leg" of the deployment—from CONUS to Europe. In his testimony, General Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that Allied Force prosecuted "…the most precise and lowest-collateral-damage air campaign in history-with no U.S. or allied combat casualties in 78 days of around-the-clock operations and over 38,000 combat sorties." A portion of that success belongs to the C-5’s responsive movement of precision munitions from CONUS into the AOR.

Successes aside, the C-5’s readiness remains a significant concern as its MC rate continues to decline from the 61 percent I reported to you earlier this year, to about 58 percent today. This aircraft, important to every peacetime deployment we undertake today, is even more critical in an MTW scenario where we would be required to move significantly more unit equipment from CONUS. As stated earlier, to meet the MRS BURU "two MTW" requirement, we need a 75 percent MC rate for the C-5. We are putting a C-5 modernization program in place in an effort to raise the C-5’s reliability to the required level, but even if we succeed, based on the length of time required to complete the associated research, development, testing and subsequent modifications, we will not see MC rates rise significantly until 2005 nor, assuming full funding for the current program, and assuming the modifications are successful in reversing the C-5’s declining reliability rates, will we begin to approach the required 75 percent MC rate until 2014. As we move in this direction, Air Mobility Command’s "Oversize and Outsized Analysis of Alternatives", using MRS-05 scenarios, is currently examining these future combat power projection deficiencies alongside the MRS-05 requirements. We are hopeful that the recommendations from that analysis will suggest operationally effective, best value force mixes of C-5 and C-17 aircraft to meet today’s and tomorrow’s Oversize/Outsize requirements.

The use of the C-17 in the intratheater role was a genuine success story, validating once again its critical importance as an instrument of national strategy. Twelve C-17s, placed under the tactical control of USEUCOM’s air component, flew 430 intratheater airlift missions, mostly in support of TF Hawk’s deployment. With its large cargo capacity and superb ground maneuverability, the C-17 gave the supported commander the maximum flexibility possible to deploy his forces into Albania. As successful as it was though, we have to be very cautious as we come to depend on future use of the aircraft in this role. Only because of the minimal demand for strategic airlift were we able to dedicate C-17s for intratheater use. As you know, we are replacing 270 C-141s with just 134 C-17s…being procured primarily to replace the C-141 in support of its MRS BURU strategic, intertheater role. In addition, even though tonnage capabilities remain close to the same, we lose tremendous flexibility with so many fewer "tails." In other words, 134 C-17s can only be in half as many places as 270 C-141s…a tremendous capability shortfall in peacetime. And, if the demand for strategic airlift is higher in future conflicts, and we know it will be in an MTW, we will probably not be able to take C-17s out of the strategic flow for intratheater support at the currently planned force structure numbers. A separate Intratheater Lift Analysis is in progress to determine the force structure necessary to support worldwide intratheater aircraft lift requirements.

Our planners were very concerned with the threat of MANPADS. Our airlifters and tankers are valuable national assets, and carry equally valuable (and frequently precious human…) cargoes that are not easily replaced. Because of this threat, we were forced to fly less than optimal routes and altitudes during Allied Force. In spite of this, we were still able to accomplish the mission. However, as the MANPAD threat continues to proliferate throughout the world, especially in the hands of terrorists and other rogues, the threat may become great enough to force us to curtail mobility operations in a particular area. To counter this threat, we must develop a comprehensive program to protect our air mobility assets. Currently, the Air Force is examining alternatives to add large aircraft defensive systems to some portion of the air mobility fleet.

PORT OPERATIONS LESSONS LEARNED

MTMC operated Military Ocean Terminal-Sunny Point, North Carolina for ammunition shipments to Europe, and the port of Beaumont, Texas for deployment of unit equipment for TF Hawk. In Europe, MTMC operated Port Thames, United Kingdom; Augusta Bay, Italy; and Bandirma, Turkey for ammunition shipments and Bremerhaven, Germany for reception of unit equipment. MTMC’s forward presence in peacetime at these and other ports in Europe contributed immeasurably to our success in exploiting these much needed lines of communication during operations in Kosovo.

In Southern Europe, MTMC operated three additional ports for the first time: Brindisi, Italy; Durres, Albania; and Thessaloniki, Greece…overcoming challenging limitations in each. Brindisi, although a very capable port, was across the Adriatic from the intended cargo destination…Albania. Use of this port required intratheater watercraft, mainly barges and United States Army Logistics Support Vessels, to get equipment and supplies into the AOR. Durres is a shallow port with minimal infrastructure and a poor road structure leading inland. Thessaloniki, a very good deep-water port, was the choice for offload of most unit equipment, but required lengthy overland movement to get equipment and supplies into Albania.

Although USEUCOM and MTMC did a superb job of utilizing available ports for reception of unit equipment, we have to be concerned about access and capabilities for future operations. Had we not had access to an adjacent allied nation’s port, the challenges of closing unit equipment would have been substantial. Only through the capabilities provided by Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) operations could we have overcome the lack of suitable ports. JLOTS is a joint Navy and Army operation that utilizes a variety of landing craft, floating causeways and cranes, tug boats and specially trained personnel to offload ships at sea and move cargo ashore without benefit of suitable port depths or infrastructure. Presently, we have minimal forward-deployed JLOTS equipment and can only offload vessels during Sea State Two conditions or less. We believe the regional CINCs will benefit from a Sea State Three (SS3) capability that substantially decreases offload operating times in rough seas. The Army and Navy have programs in place that should give us the SS3 capability by 2005.

SEALIFT LESSONS LEARNED

Our MSC organic and chartered ships deployed everything from humanitarian supplies to ammunition to unit equipment. Before the conflict ended, ALLIED FORCE was supported by 34 strategic sealift ships, moving 7,594,674 barrels of fuel, 245,280 square feet of ammunition, 1,225,849 square feet of vehicles and equipment, and 1,533 twenty foot equivalent containers. To put this in perspective, this is enough fuel for 20 million minivans, and enough cargo to fill the floor space of 13 Super Walmarts.

Three of our prepositioning program ships, as part of MSC’s force, also provided direct support: one tanker with JP5 fuel and two ammunition ships with munitions for the air campaign. Again, the value of prepositioned afloat stocks and our partnering with the commercial sealift industry proved vital. We saved considerable time and effort by calling these ships forward instead of activating or contracting shipping, loading in CONUS, and waiting on transit time to the theater.

TOTAL FORCE IMPLICATIONS

Support to operations in Kosovo was a Total Force effort for USTRANSCOM. USTRANSCOM, more than any other warfighting unified command, relies on our reserve components for peacetime responsiveness and wartime capability: 61 percent of our CONUS surface transportation capacity, 57 percent of our airlift capability, and 93 percent of our aeromedical evacuation capability are provided by our Guard and Reserve partners. For sealift, we rely on commercial liner service to move 81 percent of the warfighters’ requirements. During Kosovo operations, we had a significant response to our call for reserve volunteers; however, as described earlier, ultimately we had to use the PSRC to source approximately 3,300 personnel, mostly to support our deployed tanker aircraft operations. Fortunately, the use of personnel already forward deployed in Europe and the limited requirement for strategic (intertheater) transportation made a more significant call-up unnecessary. That said, the PSRC is essential and vital to USTRANSCOM at the start of our support to any complex contingency. Simply put, USTRANSCOM cannot execute its National Security Strategy requirements without significant reserve force participation.

RECONSTITUTION

In the aftermath of Kosovo operations, it is my Air Force component, AMC, and in particular, AMC’s tanker aircraft fleet, that requires recovery time. The Air Force has implemented a "Reconstitution" program to prepare its personnel and equipment for the next contingency. "Reconstitution" is especially challenging for AMC because our global commitments in support of the warfighting CINCs and Services in contingency operations, peacetime engagement, and training have not gone away. Our goal, however, has been to support the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s program of "Reconstitution" by lowering the commitment rates of recently deployed units and personnel for 120 days and by not deploying them to another operation for 6 months. Bottom line: We must take care of our people, and have time to "fix" our equipment, if we are to be ready to fight another day.

And along those lines, finally, and most importantly, the Kosovo operations reminded us of the importance of our most valuable commodity, our people. I am extremely proud of today’s USTRANSCOM and its team of active and reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians…not to mention our "always ready" commercial partners. I am confident that we will continue to provide the most effective and responsive strategic mobility capability in the world.

SUMMARY

I cannot close without reminding the committee of several important points: First, it is important to realize that USTRANSCOM is presently a one MTW equipped force tasked to support two nearly simultaneous MTWs. That said, we can support two MTWs, although at a higher level of risk in the second, by "swinging" our mobility forces from one MTW to the other. Even so, it is equally important to realize that our continued ability to support this strategy (and our ability to reduce risk in the second MTW)…not to mention our peacetime readiness and responsiveness…hinges on the success of several on-going and projected initiatives: continued acquisition of the C-17, our new and renovated fleet of Large Medium Speed Roll-on Roll-off ships, and our new suite of aircraft loaders—the 60K Tunner loader and our Next Generation Small Loader; improvement of the C-5’s maintenance reliability; modernization and standardization of our C-130 fleet; modernization of the avionics and defensive systems of our airlift and air refueling fleets; continued support for the readiness of our prepositioning and Ready Reserve Force fleets; maintenance (and improvement) of our JLOTS capability; and continued modernization of our CONUS and overseas enroute infrastructures.

Finally, as you know, our current, very healthy economy, coupled with the high personnel tempo resulting from frequent deployments, is fueling the exodus of trained men and women from our armed forces. I ask for your continued strong support for enhancements to the quality of life of our service members.

And I thank you again, on behalf of the men and women of USTRANSCOM, for your continued strong support.