Fort Rucker is set to host a community listening session Monday, Feb. 23, in the post theater from 6-8 p.m. The intent of the listening session is to receive public comments on Army end strength reductions currently under consideration at the Department of the Army level.
Excellence is a word that is often heard when describing Fort Rucker and the Soldiers the installation trains year after year, but that excellence wouldn’t be possible without the instructors who train these future Aviators. Fort Rucker honored five Soldier instructors and two civilian instructors during the 2014 Instructor of the Year ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 13, 2015) — The future success of the Army will no longer be decided merely by having the best equipment or being the most technologically advanced, but by forward thinking and trusting in Army leadership, said the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general.
Gen. David G. Perkins spoke to Army leaders and Soldiers at the Seneff Building Feb. 4 about the Army Operating Concept to outline the future of not only Aviation, but the Army as a whole.
“What the Army Operating Concept does is it’s meant to drive change,” said Perkins. “It’s not meant to maintain the status quo — it’s meant to drive change. We’re thinking about the future.”
Rather than thinking about the immediate, Perkins said it’s vital to think ahead 20, 30 and even 40 years down the road, and to understand that the process will be a gradual process, one that starts with the human aspect rather than new equipment.
“Really the key to deal with winning in a complex world is we have to have great leaders and great Soldiers — it is the cornerstone, it is the Army profession,” he said. “Those young sergeants, those young lieutenants, they’re really the center of this. We will give them some equipment, but we’re really counting on them to figure out the best way to use the equipment and be very adaptive because we’re going to put them in a multitude of situations and a multitude of environments.”
Perkins said Army leaders must learn to be adaptive and think critically because not all situations will be predictable and everything doesn’t have a checklist.
Although the AOC looks at the big picture of the future of the Army, Perkins said the follow-through involves breaking the concept down and looking at each aspect of the Army.
“Now what we do is say, ‘OK, what are the subordinate concepts that have to go into this — how is Aviation going to fit into this, how is maneuvering going to fit into this?'” he said. “So, now we have to start getting into the details, both doctrinal details, organizational details, training, leader development, materiel — the bits and pieces that make it a reality.”
Army Aviation is a part of that concept with the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, which the TRADOC commanding general said was on track with the AOC.
“One of the things we say is we want to present multiple options to people and what the ARI is doing is allowing us to provide time and money to provide additional options for our Aviation fleet,” said Perkins. “It provides us with time, space and resources to give us additional options so we can present additional dilemmas, so it really is right in line with what we’re trying to do in regards to the AOC.”
One example of the changes brought about by the ARI is the change in the scout missions with the elimination of the scout helicopter. Perkins said there are different options when it comes to scouting, therefore the Army has to look at situational awareness.
“We don’t want people to get focused on things, we want them to be able to deliver capability. You have to deliver a capability to provide situational awareness in an unknown, unknowable, constantly changing world,” he said. “There are lots of different ways to do it, and we don’t want to overly constrain people and say the only way you can do it is with a scout helicopter. That’s why you have to look at the capability, not just the platform.”
The ability to adapt and change is crucial to the success of the future of the Army, and one way that Perkins said to do that is by not trying to predict who the enemy is, but rather describe what they’re going to do, which is avoid our strengths.
“I try to avoid getting get fixed on coming up with counter ideas,” he said. “We have to assume that whatever we buy, whatever we train people to do … it’ll only work for a short period of time. Eventually the enemy is going to figure out its weakness. So, we need to think ahead already. It’s like the Internet. If we thought about the Internet being a weapon system when we built it, we may have built it differently.”
In that ever-changing world, one of the biggest things the Army has to maintain is the professionalism of the organization in order for the AOC to be successful, said Perkins.
“(Army leadership) has always been the strength of the United States Army and it really has allowed us to do what we’ve done since 1775. What we want to do is to continue to take it up a notch because the world that we’re talking about is constantly changing. We have to have very adaptive leaders, and very innovative and critical thinkers at all echelons,” said the TRADOC commander. “The battlefield is very dispersed now and we’ve got to be able to maneuver things from widely dispersed areas to be effective. It’s a very leader-intensive endeavor when you’re spread out, and that’s why mission command is so important because it’s not just issuing orders and assuring compliance, it’s empowering people via commander’s intent to operate in your absence.”
One of the keys to the success of that structure of compliance and professionalism is due to the fact that professionalism was something the Army built into its doctrine since the 1970s when the organization became an all-volunteer Army,” said Perkins.
“We invest in people and we send noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and officers to get professional military education, and we talk about the values of the Army,” he said. “We reward compliance and we punish noncompliance. We try to instill that at every level of echelon, as well as professional military education. We’ve taken the time to outline it … it’s actually part of our doctrine, just like shooting an artillery piece. We have a book on being a professional because it’s essential to the way we have to operate.
“If we do one thing, we have to have a professional Army, which means we have to have well-developed leaders, we have to have well-disciplined organizations and every Soldier has to own their own professional development,” the general continued. “The rate of change of the world is happening so quickly, every time something changes in the world I can’t bring you back to Fort Rucker and give you a class on it. You’ve got to figure out how you are going to stay current with what’s going on.”
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 22, 2015) — Under the Army Force Generation cycle, deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan revolved around unit training events designed for a specific mission.
As deployments decrease, and the focus shifts to home station training, simulations play a major training support role to meet the demands of a wider array of potential missions.
ARLINGTON, Va. (Feb. 2, 2015) — Army aviation operates in worldwide missions while balancing the challenges of the deployments with maintaining training and readiness, Army aviation commanders said.
The commanders addressed the topic during a panel at the Association of the United States Army’s forum on Army aviation, Jan. 29.
The panel featured Col. Vincent H. Torza, commander, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, or CAB; Col. Michael H. Hertzendorf, commander, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; Col. Kenneth A. Hawley, commander, 25th CAB; and Col. John O. Payne, deputy chief of staff, Aviation, Arkansas Army National Guard.
PARTNERSHIP WITH EUROPEAN ALLIES
These are “very exciting times in Europe,” said Torza, whose brigade is based in Germany. Army aviation is a critical component in a “strong Europe.”
“This is my third tour over in Europe and I’ve never been busier, nor have our aviation assets been busier in Europe,” Torza said.
The 12th CAB continues to provide full-spectrum aviation support to various Army commands, and also works with the Navy and Air Force, Torza said.
Recent missions include those to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sinai for multinational force and observers missions, as well as exercises in Poland and the Baltics.
“Today’s topic of ‘Sustaining Training Readiness While Executing Theater Requirements’ is extremely relevant, and in my mind, it is probably being done every day as we speak in Europe,” Torza said.
His brigade focuses on multinational training and interoperability.
“For us, as the 12th CAB, being right now the current, only Army aviation in Europe, every rotation has an aviation task force from 12th CAB,” he said.
However, interoperability is “never easy.”
One of the biggest challenges, Torza said, is communications. “We really need to work through that,” he added.
Army aviation is busy, engaged and vital, and the partnerships with allies are important, Torza said.
“These exercises are major exercises with our multi-national partners and we’re really getting at the fight and training our aviators under some very complex scenarios,” he said.
There are many challenges with language barriers and interoperability, Torza said.
“When you’re in a knife fight, that’s not the time where you want to have to transmit through three different chains to talk to the guy who’s right below you, because for some reason the security systems on the radios aren’t compatible,” he said. “You want to be able to get that information immediately.”
“We just did an exercise, and with six different countries we struggled to communicate with various different systems and these were very competent militaries. The common operating picture is critical, but it needs to be simplistic,” Torza said.
Hertzendorf said readiness is professional, highly-trained Soldiers who are operating reliable, modern equipment, and who are “prepared to deploy and accomplish any mission that is given to them,” he said.
To be successful, Hertzendorf said, the force needs the most modern aircraft, the ability to maintain that aircraft, Soldiers who are ready for the mission, trainers who are experienced, and resources.
“Any time one of those phases gets out of sync,” he said, “you have an inefficient training base and that causes friction and hampers your ability to maintain that readiness and grow that combat power.
“I think our greatest readiness challenge is really training the force and building that future bench while continually providing relevant capability to the nation,” he said. “Same as Army aviation, we’re seeing the effects of a downsizing Army.”
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, has supported global special forces operations, as well as missions including Operations Resolute Support, Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve, Hertzendorf said.
“In each of these locations we are operating and partnered with army aviation,” he said.
“This mutually beneficial relationship is formed and developed over the last 14 years,” Hertzendorf said. “It absolutely must be sustained and that level of interoperability needs to be sustained and continue to grow across the spectrum of SOF [Special Operation Forces] and conventional aviation.”
Maintaining readiness as a deployable force is essential for the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is in Hawaii, and supports Pacific and other missions, Hawley said.
“We have taken the lessons learned from multiple deployments across the Pacific and applied them to improve some of our key force multipliers,” he said.
There are challenges and issues in communications, logistics, aviation maintenance, and maintaining aircrew proficiency.
“We have to balance our training requirements with our readiness requirements, ensuring that we have adequate equipment staged and ready for contingencies while ensuring we still can train our forces,” he said.
“Maintaining Soldier proficiency during multiple deployments is a real and challenging requirement,” he said.
Interoperability is a challenge, Hawley said.
“It really comes down to integrated planning sessions, integrated training sessions and multiple iterations,” he said.
“While these training-readiness challenges are out there, the successes abound. It is truly a unique experience being in the Pacific,” Hawley said.
Payne, with the Arkansas National Guard, said “readiness is the keystone for what we do on a day-in, day-out basis.”
The National Guard focuses heavily on pre-deployment requirements and training throughout the year, he noted.
“Our aircrew members in the National Guard are authorized, resourced for 111 training days; most of them train between 120 and 150 days in any given year,” he said.
“Compare that to 365 in the active component, it still doesn’t sound like a lot, until you take away all the Saturdays and Sundays, 10 federal holidays, 30 days of leave, and it’s getting compatible,” he said.
The challenge for the National Guard, he said, is what to do with those training days, and also money.
“A big component of what we do is ensuring the Soldiers are ready to go out the door, and by that, they’re trained and they’re physically fit, operationally available,” Payne said.
Another challenge is that members are geographically dispersed through various states. What is needed, he said, is a mission command system that is networked and integrated for communications throughout the various headquarters and states.
Those capabilities are available, but not as “friendly” with the networks and the resources that are available, he said.
The National Guard works with other government entities and needs to have systems that can integrated with civilian agencies, Payne said.
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