Civil Aviation Gives The Pentagon A Helping Hand

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While the U.S. postures for a war with Iraq, it has become clear that the Pentagon is stretching its troop-transport capabilities too thin. The Washington Times reports the Pentagon is drafting plans to contract dozens of civilian airliners to ferry troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf. The paper states this would be just the second time the military has exercised powers to utilize the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) since gaining the authority for this action during the Korean War. However, while the airlines ready for their potential role, concerns about a war's direct effects on their business are mounting -- during the Gulf War, business among domestic airlines declined about 8 percent. For now, they hope to deploy their unused aircraft for the CRAF program. This civilian air transport fleet was created in 1951 as a way to boost airlift capacity during times of crisis. Under the program, airlines agree to loan planes and crews to the military in wartime for a fee and the promise of government business in peacetime.