McDew Emphasizes Role of TRANSCOM in Delivering ‘Options’
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In his keynote address at the Sea-Air-Space luncheon April 4, U.S. Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), told an audience of military, industry and maritime professionals that he believes he runs the best combatant command of the nine, regardless of its little known, if misunderstood, image.
“Some people in my headquarters, when I took command about 18 months ago, [thought] that we just deliver stuff,” McDew said. “No, we deliver one thing: options. We deliver options for the president, for the secretary of Defense, for this nation and our allies, and that is what makes us so powerful.
“There are nations in this world that can’t project or sustain a force more than 90 miles outside their capital. We’ve been sustaining a force halfway around the world for 15 years. That is powerful,” he said.
Though an Air Force general, McDew repeatedly noted the importance of understanding the maritime domain in the context of the nation’s global military power and TRANSCOM’s role.
“There are 140,000 people in this enterprise,” he said. “We can deliver an immediate force, and that immediate force is the envy of everybody around the world. That is through our air assets. But, it is the decisive force that we deliver, and that is the ability to take the Army, in particular, to war. That is the maritime force. … The power and influence that we have in the maritime domain, that responsibility, that overwhelming force of time and place makes us different than every other military in the world.
“Some people believe that we are the most powerful and respected military in the world because we have F-22s and F-35s. It is the strength of our logistics force,” McDew said.
He said contested environments remain a key concern for TRANSCOM. “We haven’t had to deal with a contested environment in 70-plus years. When was the last time we had a challenge of any domain? It’s been a while, and possibly much longer from a logistics side.”
He said TRANSCOM has not deployed in some time, but has been in sustainment mode for 15 or 16 years. McDew noted that the role of the industrial base is critical in terms of reliance on commercial mariners and commercial vessels, what he calls his “fourth component.”
“That industrial base of this nation … is now part of national security,” he said. “I cannot do my job and many people can’t without the fourth component. With those folks, all the excess capacity is now there.
“We have got to work together, and we have to ask some hard questions about what that means for the fourth component and how do we prepare for a contested environment when I must use commercial mariners and commercial vessels to move the nation to war,” he said.