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Commercial transportation firms promise DoD support

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Army News Service, Sept. 24, 2001) -- The commercial transportation industry will play a pivotal role as American responds to the terrorist strikes, said a top military transporter.

Bill Lucas, of the Military Traffic Management Command, told an audience of civilian transporters they have a key role to play as part of an "extraordinary team."

"We've all been witnesses to it in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and so many other contingencies," said Lucas, MTMC's deputy to the commander. "I have no doubt we will witness it again, and I feel fortunate to be part of such an extraordinary team."

Lucas spoke Sept. 20 at a meeting of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Defense Transportation Association.

"When faced with a threat, we bond quickly, with a sense of common purpose and resolve that is awesome."

Lucas said the defense transportation system frequently operates "in relative obscurity" during peacetime. In the current crisis, industry representatives are exhibiting a 'can-do spirit,'" he said.

"The call will come," said Lucas, "but I can't tell you where or when, and because of that, I ask for your understanding and flexibility.

"Obviously, we are into a less scripted and straightforward scenario than we were in the Cold War or the Persian Gulf."

Lucas cautioned fellow transporters to observe security in their operations and communications.

"What once seemed innocuous may now be cobbled together as part of a larger puzzle that signals an intent or poses an inherent risk," Lucas said. "September 11, 2001, has caused us all to view things in very different perspectives and with different priorities."

Lucas told transporters to take the long view of the current crisis.

"We need time to reflect," said Lucas. "We need the energy to sustain the campaign. And we need to be mindful that we can't put everything else on hold. So I encourage all of us to find balance in that equation."

With the current crisis, he said, the command will accelerate the development of a MTMC Operations Center at Fort Eustis, Va.

"It will be our center of gravity for operations -- from traffic management to command and control of worldwide port operations," Lucas said.

A part of the shift is already evident. Brig. Gen. Barbara Doornink, who will transition the new deputy commanding general position at the new organization at Fort Eustis, has currently assumed the responsibility of managing MTMC's Crisis Action Team.

In the past decade since the Desert War, MTMC is a changed organization, Lucas said.

In 1990, the organization had approximately 4,000 employees. With current streamlining plans, MTMC will have fewer than 2,000 employees by June 2003.

"If you had told me then that we could absorb a 50-percent reduction, I would have had trouble imagining it," Lucas said. "But our people have enabled us to make that kind of impact, because they are working hard and they are working smart. They are promoting, adopting and adapting to change.

"I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of their dedication and selfless service."

The transportation industry should prepare now for its role implementing National Security Strategy, Lucas said.

"...the ability to deploy and sustain the force anytime, anywhere, for as long as it is needed. Be prepared. Be proud. Be safe. God bless America!"

(Editor's note: This article was provided by the Military Traffic Management Command's command affairs office headquartered in Alexandria, Va.)

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