A few days ago, Air Force Gen. Hansford Johnson, commander of the air and sealift forces moving a U.S. field army to Saudi Arabia, delivered a fact-packed briefing at the Pentagon.
Indeed, the speed of the jet transport is somewhat deceptive. In 1968, when America was engaged in a massive airlift and sealift of forces and supplies to Vietnam, a few mid-level Navy experts drafted a revealing comparison for the chief of naval operations on the relative merits of jet transports and cargo ships in moving cargo to Southeast Asia.
That 22-year-old memorandum is just as relevant today, because the workhorse of the airlift force in 1968 was the giant C-5 jet transport, about 90 of which now are shuttling gear and troops to Saudi Arabia. In addition, the Navy analysts were comparing the delivery capability of C-5s to the gas-turbine-powered Navy cargo ship, the Adm. William M. Callaghan, which also is still in service.