General: US aircraft remain 'very committed' to Libya operation

U.S. military aircraft are still “very committed” to the NATO-led intervention in Libya, especially refueling planes that are “schwacking” targets, a top general said Tuesday.

American tanker planes have pumped nearly 150 million gallons of fuel into U.S. and coalition combat aircraft, U.S. Air Mobility Command (AMC) chief Gen. Raymond Johns told reporters during a breakfast meeting in Washington.

The AMC-managed flying gas stations have serviced 11,000 U.S., NATO and coalition aircraft during the months-long operation so those planes can “schwack somebody when they need to be schwacked,” Johns said.

In Afghanistan, the command — tasked with moving the military’s fuel, cargo and personnel — plans to continue its shift toward conducting more air drops of supplies and equipment. That’s because some of the first American troops that will be removed from Afghanistan under the White House’s 2014 total withdrawal goal will be support troops like truck convoy drivers and support personnel.

“I would love to have all the convoys gone,” Johns said, because they are often a target for al Qaeda and Taliban attacks.

Aerial cargo movement is more expensive, but it removes easily targeted troops from the battlefield, Pentagon officials say.

Asked about the formal end of the Pentagon’s ban on openly homosexual personnel, Johns’s message was: No big deal.

“It doesn’t come up” when he and other senior Air Force officials travel to bases around the globe and talk to airmen, Johns said.

AMC’s training for the end of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is “96 to 98 percent complete,” he said.

Johns said he expects “we will discover some things” about a post-DADT military, but no major “disruptions.”