Defense: Transcom nominee calls command a U.S. asymmetric advantage

The United States is a global superpower and this means global reach.

Washington, September 24, 2021.- «There isn’t a scrap of Earth that we can’t reach out and touch when we need to,» Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said during a press conference in Qatar on Sept. 7. «We’ve demonstrated that time and time again. And again, our job is to make sure we stay vigilant and continue to develop capabilities.»

On the military side, these capabilities run from being able to deploy and sustain service members anywhere in the world to being able to drop a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, on some terrorist hideout to being able to steam wherever international law allows. Underpinning this ability are the men and women — military and civilian — of U.S. Transportation Command.
President Joe Biden nominated Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost to be the next commander of Transcom. Her confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was today.

Van Ovost — who currently commands the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command — said Transcom is America’s asymmetric advantage over potential foes. «If confirmed, I will ensure United States Transportation Command continues to provide our nation with one of its most important strategic and asymmetric advantages over our adversaries: The ability to rapidly project and sustain joint combat power at strategically relevant speeds, distances and scale at the time and place of our nation’s choosing,» she said.

The capabilities the command provides is increasingly important in an era of strategic competition with China and Russia, Van Ovost said. «Determined and emboldened strategic competitors, like China and Russia, continue rapid and deliberate development of advanced capabilities, and they challenge international norms with their coercive behavior,» she said. «As the national security strategic guidance emphasizes, we must maintain our military competitive edge by continuing to field and train the best force, adopt new technologies and build and maintain key partnerships.»

Building relationships with allies and partners is another aspect she emphasized. Access to ports or overflight rights is the lifeblood of the global command. Dealing with commercial companies — who carry vast amounts of military cargo — is also a responsibility for the commander.

Cyber abilities are important to the command from tracking shipments, to ensuring communications, to de-conflicting airspaces and more. Van Ovost told senators that malicious cyber operations pose significant threats to logistics. «These attacks target vulnerable supply chain elements and can interrupt the flow of goods and supplies around the world,» she said.

The non-combatant evacuation operation from Hamid Karzai International Airport last month highlighted the abilities of the Air Mobility Command — a part of Transom. «AMC played a significant role in the national and coalition effort to airlift more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan,» Van Ovost said. «It was a difficult and dynamic mission, where some of our airmen had to make decisions when lives are on the line. I’m so very proud of the work they did there, and that they continue to do every day.»

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