Airlift/Tanker Association Convention: The Fight to Get to the Fight


The chilly mountain air in late October contrasted starkly to the warm spirit of camaraderie felt at the 54th Airlift/Tanker Association (A/TA) Air Mobility Symposium & Technology Exposition. This year’s convention took place at the renowned Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, on October 27-30, 2022. The nearly 2 million square-foot venue could hardly contain the energy of the enthused guests—Air Mobility warriors comprised of members from Active Duty and Reserve forces, National Guard, DoD civilians, retired military personnel, aerospace industry members, and more. Attendees buzzed around the sprawling halls, eager to network and learn from one another.

The convention’s environment of growth can be credited to the structure itself. A/TA leaders carefully plan the event as a forum for ensuring that American military forces continue to have the Air Mobility capabilities required to implement the national security strategy. This is made possible by Airmen from different disciplines, with diverse duties, who are stationed at various bases. Where they do not differ, however, is their shared responsibility for the future fight.

This shared responsibility was a recurring concept at the 2022 A/TA. Acknowledging that mobility starts with every Airman is critical to facing today’s and tomorrow’s adversaries. That is why the theme of this year’s convention was “the fight to get to the fightâ€â€”emphasizing the effort and responsibility involved in preparing for the road ahead.

Mobility Airmen have shouldered tremendous responsibilities during recent world events, which A/TA highlighted. Not only were mobility Airmen key players in the success of Operation Allies Refuge in 2021, but they also have had an enormous role in the United States’ response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion on its neighboring country of Ukraine in 2022. Meanwhile, China remains a looming threat that Airmen are addressing and consistently preparing for.

These scenarios confirm that complacency is never an option. Thankfully, mobility Airmen proved and continue to prove their ability to adapt. The concepts of Multi-Capable Airmen and Agile Combat Employment, which were seen operationally during recent events, demonstrate each Airman’s ability to go above and beyond the responsibilities and expectations placed on them.

Gen Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, former Commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC), is the 14th Commander of U.S. Transportation Command as well as an honored guest at the 2022 A/TA. Van Ovost’s ability to further energize an already energized room was just a minor reflection of her immense capability to take the Command a step further—and a step ahead.

In her keynote address, Van Ovost discussed how she has been a witness to Mobility Airmen’s incredible efforts—and how these are needed for the future fight.

“Whenever our nation calls today, our joint logistical prowess remains on full display,†Van Ovost stated. “…We will need your experience, your innovation, and your partnership now more than ever to evolve our rapid strategic advantage.â€

We have always risen to meet our nation’s strategic challenges. Our legacy is filled with those who met difficulties with innovation, determination, and professionalism. Time after time, when our nation called, we delivered.â€

Gen Jacqueline Van Ovost, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command

Airmen who particularly displayed this sense of innovation and partnership were highlighted in award ceremonies throughout the convention. Awards for outstanding effort, leadership demonstrations, and unique Phoenix Spark Tank inventions were among the accomplishments recognized. The awards further demonstrated how it is each Airman’s duty to improve, innovate, and ignite the passion needed to move AMC forward. The Airmen were encouraged to take a look back at the legacies set by their predecessors.

“We have always risen to meet our nation’s strategic challenges,†Van Ovost affirmed. “Our legacy is filled with those who met difficulties with innovation, determination, and professionalism. Time after time, when our nation called, we delivered.â€

Seminars honoring recently passed heroes such as Col Gail Halvorsen, Gen Duane H. Cassidy, and more, bridged the generational gap through stories of a shared sense of humanity. Their legacies reminded young mobility Airmen to be mindful of their own actions, which, as Van Ovost stated, truly make a difference in life and death. While the future fight evolves, so will the need to evolve the lifesaving network.

This evolution takes place at every mobility event and within every Mobility Airman. The 2022 A/TA was a quintessential reminder that Mobility Airmen have always and will always do what it takes to fight to get to the future fight.

As Gen Mike Minihan, Commander of AMC, stated in his AMC Strategy, a warrior culture involves empowering incredible Airmen and families biased toward action, unencumbered by bureaucracy, and intentionally disruptive to the status quo.

For information about future A/TA conventions, please visit

Editor’s Note: We would like to give a special thanks to Gen Duncan J. McNabb, USAF (Ret), Chairman of the Board for the A/TA, for his role in planning this great event.