Crutchfield reflects on time as USAACE CG
August 9, 2012
(Editor's note: Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield will hand over the reins as commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker to Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum during a change of command ceremony Aug. 10 at 9 a.m. at Howze Field. Crutchfield sat down Aug. 6 with Lisa Eichhorn, Fort Rucker Public Affairs Officer, to reflect on his time as USAACE and Fort Rucker CG.)
Q: Talk a bit about the things you saw as you came in to the job here and as the new commander what you saw as the Branch's biggest challenges?
A: Biggest challenge? For me it was making sure we had a long-term strategy for the Branch. So almost from the first days of my command we began setting a direction and have worked to have that clarified in an Aviation Campaign Plan. This is not just for Fort Rucker, but for the entire Aviation Enterprise. This campaign plan is a living, breathing document that's done collaboratively. I know in the long run, that's going to pay dividends for our Branch and our Army.
Q: One of your imperatives when taking over was eliminating the training backlog. Why did you know you could get rid of it after it had been an issue for so long?
A: Bottom line, I knew that it had to be done, period. It wasn't easy -- it took gathering my team here. I have to say at first I think folks were feeling me out to see if I was serious. After about three months of being here, I gathered my command team and I told them that I wasn't joking. This was going to happen and to get me the plan. Well, within a week they presented the plan and it was the plan we used and it worked. The beautiful thing is the commanders told me they thought we could do it in seven months and we did it in five months. But here's why it was so important for our Army. By getting pilots trained and out to their "go to war" units it meant that maybe some other training pilot didn't have to deploy a third time, a fifth time. It meant that guy or gal got to take a breath and stay with their Family. That's what I was focused on. We needed to get pilots out to the generating force.
Q: Talk a little about the AimPoint 2030 and what the folks here can do to keep that a priority?
A: Again, the Aim Point is about the next future vertical lift helicopter. Whatever that may be, whatever that may look like. We have to start now to be able to even think about fielding something by 2030. So with that said, the most important thing is that the Branch can't take its eye off it. Don't give up even with setbacks. Those are going to happen, that's part of life in the Army. We must be willing to compromise. It's not all or nothing. My goal was to get something fielded and then we'll product improve it like we do now. I know the great folks here will make that happen.
Q: Let's change gears, talk to me about the Soldiers, Families and civilians here and what you feel they do for the Army, and maybe something you think they can improve on?
A: First, this is a wonderful place to work and live, and our garrison is outstanding. I have witnessed firsthand some of the most caring, thoughtful, patriotic citizens that live and work on Fort Rucker. I've seen it when they didn't know I was watching. The support they give is phenomenal. But I also think they should never forget why they are here. I want them to understand their job here is the Soldier and the Family and that's why they are here. Treat everyone like they treated me, even the most junior Soldier should be treated like I had walked into the room. I'm the last person you need to treat that way. I'm a general officer; I can take care of myself. So, that's my message to them. Keep up the good work and remember why you are here.
Q: Talk to me about the Wiregrass and the support of the civilian community.
A: Wow! Well, like I've said many times, the Wiregrass community is like having a blanket around you. There are genuine people here that truly love the Army and our Soldiers and care deeply about our people. I ask them to welcome the Mangum's like they did Kim and I. And continue to grow the relationships that ensure Fort Rucker remains strong and vital to our nation. And, of course, we'll be back to visit. Kim and I have made some great friends here -- we will miss them very much.
Q: What do you think your legacy here will be and what did you want it to be?
A: Well, I never thought about a legacy. I don't think that way. I'm probably not the right person to ask. Ask someone in a couple years. History will tell that story. But for right now, I hope they remember me as a person who was upbeat and positive for this Branch. As someone who cared deeply for the Soldiers and the Families in this Branch. The rest only time will tell.
Q: As you move into your new position at PACOM as the first Army Flag Officer to hold that job, what do you think you'll bring to that command and what is the significance of having an Army general in a position normally held by the Navy?
A: I think first off it's important because the president has put the focus on the Pacific. To have an Army officer there is good for the Army and DOD. Most people don't know that we have 66,000 Soldiers deployed in PACOM. And as we draw down I think it will be important for an Army officer to have that key position. I hope, coming from the Army, I will be able to provide the commander with a land power perspective when he makes his decisions. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Q: What would your parting words be for the folks here at Rucker?
A: It's hard to say goodbye. I think I realized I was leaving when I moved out, started to believe it when I took my last flight and knew it at my farewell dinner. This week I'm coming to terms with it. Friday is the Mangum's day and my comments will be short. So, I'll leave everyone with this quote from a very wise man. "We will not cry because it's over. We are going to smile because it happened." - Dr Seuss