The Civil Reserve Air Fleet and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm

Issues for the Future

by Mary E. Chenoweth


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This report investigates the activation of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), which the Military Airlift Command (predecessor of the Airlift Mobility Command) called up for the first time at the start of Operation Desert Shield. From August 1990 to May 1991, CRAF furnished commercial airline assets — passenger jets, cargo transports, and crews — to the command to assist in the massive deployment of U.S. troops and supplies to the Gulf region and in their eventual return. To guarantee a robust CRAF for our national security future, some enhancements are vital. An effective, modern mix of incentives for this volunteer program is necessary. Also, policies that shield air carriers from unreasonable risk; improve command, control, and communications; and minimize the inefficient use of commercial aircraft and crews should be developed.

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