Dear Santa,

Because you’re someone who appreciates and relies on the ability to travel around the globe quickly and efficiently, I’m hoping you will help deliver a message during your upcoming trip. We’d like some help continuing to do the great work the Air Force does for America every day. Since people around the world rely on you for delivering packages, I know you’ll appreciate what we at Air Mobility Command are all about!

In 2017, the men and women of Air Mobility Command delivered hope, relief and goodwill to millions across the planet. Just as you rely on your hardworking elves to set the conditions for success, mobility airmen were the backbone of many triumphs through hard work. They opened austere and damaged airfields, delivered equipment and supplies, and advanced the fight against ISIS ― regular residents on your “Naughty” List, I’m sure! Our people did this while simultaneously providing support and relief to all corners of the world. Mobility airmen delivered critical supplies here at home and in the Caribbean during a series of devastating hurricanes, as just one example.

Santa, you of all people know what it takes to get around the world quickly. During your extensive travels we know how much you look forward to being refueled by cookies and milk. So obviously you can appreciate how AMC literally fuels global reach with tanker gas. In the fight against ISIS, our aerial tankers flew 40 percent of the U.S. Air Force’s sorties, helping advance hopes for a brighter future for the good girls and boys in that region.

Just like you, our operations spanned the globe. Airmen performed refueling, airdrops, cargo hauling, humanitarian relief and presidential airlift. Expeditionary mobility airmen were in 77 locations around the world. Mobility airmen make it look easy, but it’s not ― and we can’t take these capabilities for granted.

Your elves do a wonderful job of producing nice new toys for you to deliver. Unfortunately, “new” is not a term used to describe today’s Air Force. AMC is flying vintage aircraft. While we still belong to the world’s premier Air Force, the average age of aircraft in the service’s inventory is 27 years. Most AMC aircraft are older than that, with the KC-135 tanker fleet averaging 55 years of age. To ensure a viable fleet, it requires the cooperation and support of the Air Reserve component, swapping or rotating aircraft to extend the lifespan of existing aircraft. Sharing and cooperating definitely deserves a nod on the “Nice” List, right Santa?

While the North American Aerospace Defense Command is busy tracking your route and aiding safe passage, Air Mobility Command’s Tanker Airlift Coordination Center will dutifully continue missions of its own. Chances are, when you are on your way to the homes of deserving boys and girls, you will encounter one of our aircraft in the sky. Diligent maintainers, pilots, and the Total Force mobility team of professionals ensure an aircraft takes off somewhere around the globe once every 2.8 minutes.

The year 2017 was a good one for Air Mobility Command. We want to maintain momentum, and that’s where you can help! During a season of giving, it is important to remember that freedom comes at a cost.

A top wish list need is a stable and predictable budget. Continuing resolutions create uncertainty and interruption, and adversely impact readiness, training, modernization and the lives of people selflessly serving to deliver hope and relief to so many.

Impacts of a long-term CR can include limiting flying hours, the need to incrementally fund contracts and government purchase card accounts, deferring necessary facility repairs and upgrades as well as restoration and modernization requirements. Not knowing how much to budget for introduces a risk to our national defense. It erodes effective planning and introduces stress. It creates doubt in what promises to be a Happy New Year.

Cooperation and hard work is always required to ensure the Air Force the nation deserves. Resolving, in 2018, to get this right is a must. Can you help deliver messages of hope and keep in mind all service-members who are deployed this holiday season?

Thank you, Santa! By the way, please place all families of military members on the “Nice“ List; their selfless sacrifice is critical to national defense.

If you happen to need airlift this holiday season, remember, the Air Force is always there ― ready to partner and get the job done.

Col. Chris Karns is director of public affairs at Air Mobility Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

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