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John J. Kruzel - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2010, - The U.S. military command responsible for moving troops and cargo around the world will receive recognition for its role as one of the Defense Department's unsung heroes, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is slated to travel to U.S. Transportation Command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., on April 1 to bestow the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
"Secretary Gates believes the members of Transcom are among the unsung heroes of our military efforts around the world, and this award allows him to personally thank this dedicated and unheralded team of professionals," Morrell told Pentagon reporters today.
The department award honors organizations that demonstrate outstanding support of the nation's men and women in uniform, Morrell said.
Over the last three years, Transcom has moved more than 5 billion gallons of fuel, 8.5 million short tons of cargo and 5 million passengers, Morrell said, noting that "these numbers only tell part of the story."
"Without their tireless work," he said, "our missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed around the world, would eventually grind to a halt."
A centerpiece of Gates' agenda as defense secretary has been to field mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, to troops in Iraq, and smaller versions to servicemembers in Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The vehicles, which feature a V-shaped hull that deflects the impact of roadside bombs, has been credited with saving lives and limbs since being adopted downrange.
"Transcom has responded superbly to this urgent requirement and, since late 2007, has delivered roughly 450 vehicles per month," Morrell said.
Beyond the battlefield, Transcom also played an instrumental role in U.S. relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there last month.
"In responding to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti," Morrell said, "Transcom has provided over 2 million meals, more than 5 million liters of water to the island, in ongoing humanitarian and disaster-relief operations."
Joining Gates at the award ceremony will be Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, who oversees operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Transcom, which was established in 1987, has transported tens of thousands of sick or injured troops out of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Due in large part to the command's efficiency, defense officials have said, a medical evacuation back to the United States takes only a fraction of the amount of time it took in Vietnam.