The string of recent natural disasters,
not just the hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico and the continental U.S.,
but also the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook central Mexico,
wrecked untold havoc, affecting millions of people.
These terrible disasters brought out the
full force of the U.S. cargo airline industry, as well as FEMA and the
U.S. Military, to deliver immediate relief.
Looking at the broad sweep of activities
as these climate challenges have increased, cargo carriers and government
agencies have worked in tandem to deliver relief supplies while U.S.
passenger carriers have answered the call to assist in the evacuation
effort, especially in Puerto Rico in the sad and well-publicized aftermath
of its worst ever natural disaster.
The first commercial freighter into San
Juan after Hurricane Maria was an AmeriJet 767-300F.
AmeriJet, the last of the U.S. all-cargo schedule airlines, has continued
to operate 3 of its seven 767 freighters each day into San Juan carrying
generators, water, medical supplies, baby food, and other relief supplies.
To The Rescue
As the commercial carriers and FEMA rushed
to assist the island, the Air Mobility Command (AMC) carried the bulk
of the supplies, while also delivering military personnel to help restore
AMC may be an unfamiliar name to many people—Americans and non-Americans—but that will certainly change as increasingly AMC serves as the
first responder in many high-profile relief efforts.
What Is AMC?
AMC is a branch of USTC (U.S. Transportation
Command), ably commanded by USAF General Daren McDew.
In his role as USTC Commander he reports
directly to the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), responsible for coordinating
all logistics for the U.S. Military—land, sea and air.
AMC is the largest component of USTC, which
is led by another great USAF 4-star, General Carlton (Dewey) Everhart.
Cargo Fleet In The World
Gen. Dewey commands the largest all cargo
air fleet in the world, including 55 giant C-5 Super Galaxies, 222 C-17
Globemasters (purpose built for heavily laden short take-offs and landings
on austere runways), 281 C-130 Hercules, and 456 air refueling tankers
(KC-10A, KC-135, and the soon to be deployed KC-46).
This massive military air cargo lift is
augmented by the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), a partnership that also
includes most U.S. commercial carriers.
Does & Doesn’t
You might, dear reader, wonder what General
Everhart does with this remarkable airlift capacity.
But it would be easier to list what AMC doesn’t do.
AMC does not compete with the commercial
industry, but does respond to all sorts of crises, most notably mobilizing
its cargo fleet for disaster relief as for example in the wake of the
So the one-two punch of Hurricane Harvey
and then Marie have become a challenge to the AMC, turning it into a 24-hour-a-day operation.
At a moment’s notice, thousands of
AMC staff jumped into action to develop and execute logistics and operations
plans to provide disaster relief.
AMC moved hundreds of tons of equipment,
from trackers for clearing debris to generators to help restore power.
Exceed The Need
The confluence of so many natural disasters
has challenged these dedicated people to an even greater level of planning
and precision in execution. Huge volumes of medical supplies, meals ready-to-eat,
water and other humanitarian aid, along with hundreds of highly trained
disaster response teams are needed for the hurricane disaster zone and
the earthquake victims in Mexico City.
Timing was and still is critical to get
the goods and personnel on the ground immediately to provide relief and
All of this relief so vital to a suffering
people must be operational even when the airports in Puerto Rico and neighboring
islands lose their ability to control air traffic.
In these cases, AMC first flights carry
mobile air traffic control centers.
In addition, AMC transported task forces
of firefighters with pallets of shovels, jacks, fuel, and chain saws to
the rescue operation hours before FEMA was activated.
AMC’s humanitarian mission knows no
borders—it responded with equal dedication and energy to Mexico’s
devastating earthquake and has provided relief around the world, in places
as far afield as Pakistan and Indonesia.
AMC personnel are proud of their rapid response,
and honored to serve as a global 9-1-1 in times of natural disaster.
More about AMC, including its regular mission
moving military equipment around the world for America’s armed services,
and the part that CRAF plays in augmenting that effort, will be the subject
of my next article.
Your comments are welcome.
Boesch started his career in global transportation and logistics
in 1965 working for Seaboard World Airlines. He later joined Flying
Tiger Airlines and Emery Worldwide. Mr. Boesch then left Emery to
become Pan American World Airways’ Senior Vice President where
he headed both Passenger and Cargo Sales and Operations. He left
Pan Am to lead American Airlines’ Cargo operation and retired
from AA in 1998. Under his direction American became a world leader
in the air cargo and logistics business.
Boesch was part of the extensive on site planning and support of
the Iraq drawdown, involvement with the Afghanistan operations,
and has worked on all aspects of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)
from both an airline and government standpoint.
Mr. Boesch has also served as Chairman
of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Cargo Executive
Subcommittee in 1996 and 1997, Vice Chairman of IATA’s Cargo
Committee. Mr. Boesch served on the Board of Directors of Air Cargo
Incorporated, Air Cargo International, The International Air Cargo
Association (TIACA), Envirotainer, Cargo Logistics Solutions, Deutsche
Post/DHL Global Mail, al Seqir and consulted for major U.S. companies
including Flight Safety.
Mr. Boesch is the recipient of numerous
awards including the Lifetime Air Cargo Achievement Award, the Ellis
Island Medal of Honor and various awards from the U.S. Department
Mr. Boesch is presently continuing
his work for the U.S. Government and heads up The Council For Logistics