FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 12, 2012) -- The Army Aviation Association of America's 2012 professional forum and exhibition revolved around themes of change, the Army Aviation 'Aim Point' 2030 and the Army Aviation Enterprise Campaign Plan April 1-4 in Nashville.

The annual forum provides an opportunity for an exchange of ideas with industry to solve the problems not only of the nation but also of the Army and the Aviation Branch, said Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general in his opening remarks.

With eyes on the horizon, Crutchfield's concern is preserving and maintaining the fighting "edge" the Army Aviation fleet and profession has achieved. "We have to fight today and we have to win today, but we have to keep an eye on the future."

Army Aviation must become faster and more lethal, with a reduced logistical footprint and expanded ranges, during a transition from being a nation at war to a nation preparing to go to war, he said.

The Army Aviation 2030 Vision and Army Aviation Enterprise Campaign Plan are tools to achieve the goal of making the future Aviation force a reality.

Families are just as professional, strong and committed as Aviation Soldiers, said Kim Crutchfield, the commanding general's spouse, echoing the forum's overarching theme. She stood next to the Aviation Branch chief on stage at the forum's opening. Several professional sessions catered to the specific needs of spouses, including guest speaker Dr. Jean Twenge, who talked about generational differences, and a Wellness Cafe.

Because of the capabilities of Army Aviation, there's "no place to hide," said Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, in his keynote address April 2. Phillips spoke about the Army profession, the vital role of Army Aviation in the warfight, the importance of partnering with industry to maintain adaptability, and also that the key to success is not the technology alone, it is the American Soldier.

Chief Warrant Officer of the Branch CW5 Michael Reese headed up a warrant officer forum, and Branch Command Sgt. Maj. James Thomson led the enlisted forum breakout session.

Two congressmen from Alabama, Rep. Mo Brooks and Senator Jeff Sessions, echoed Army Aviation's critical role for the nation during a time of economic uncertainty.

One of the focal points for April 3 was special operations forces and partnering with the conventional force. Both Crutchfield and Brig. Gen. Kevin Mangum, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, spoke about how the relationship between conventional Army Aviation and special operations Aviation hasn't always been as well-oiled as it is now. The two leaders have worked for years to make improvements, and the goals for the future include Army Aviation aircraft that require fewer modifications for special operations use.

"Special operations forces could not be doing what they're doing without the magnificent work of Army Aviation," Mangum said. "The fight has been tough, and the fight has been long. There has been a lot of overlap in the last few years in Iraq and Afghanistan between the conventional Aviation force, or Combat Aviation Brigades, and special operations Aviation force. A lot of overlap. But there is still a need for a specially trained, specially equipped force to do the nation's business in high-risk missions -- whenever needed, wherever needed."

Ellis Golson, director of the Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate for USAACE, held up a pamphlet for the audience to see during a breakout session about the Aim Point 2030. The "Army Aviation 2030 Vision" document is a step forward in outlining and addressing not only the aging fleets of aircraft that have served the Army well for decades but cannot continue to be incrementally upgraded indefinitely, but also the missions, organizations and training of Aviation Soldiers.

"I've been at this for 10 years. This is the first time we've had a published vision," Golson said.

Retired CW4 Michael Durant spoke about being resilient and adaptive, and his experiences as a former Army Aviator and prisoner of war, which were recreated in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, Program Executive Officer for Aviation, focused on balance, the industry approach to the Aim Point 2030, and meeting Aviation requirements today and tomorrow.

"We can't afford to let cutting investments be the answer to the budget this time," Crosby said.

During the conference, multiple leaders and subject matter experts from USAACE engaged industry representatives at a speaker's corner as part of the Army Aviation booth on the exhibit floor. The goal of the booth was to encourage dialogue between industry and the Army Aviation trainers and requirements builders so there is a better understanding of gaps and considerations to improve the quality of training.

Page last updated Thu April 12th, 2012 at 00:00