Army Aviation, industry decipher 'art of the possible' for the future
March 28, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28, 2013) -- Army Aviation professionals and industry representatives rolled up their sleeves at The Landing March 21 during Fort Rucker's Aviation Training Industry Day to tackle training issues for the future, together.
Panel discussions and speakers throughout the day focused on training initiatives and challenges to help those who write requirements for Army Aviation to better understand the realm of the technologically possible, and to give industry a point of reference as they develop potential solutions.
Ellis Golson, director for the Capability Development and Integration Directorate, who headed up a panel of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command capability managers and experts, said Aviation's approach to a "complex environment" of the future will not involve new aircraft in the near-term.
"We have to look at the future. Eighty percent of the Army of 2020 exists today. We're not going to buy a lot of new airframes. So, if we're going to be able to fight in that complex environment, we've got to figure out how we're going to use what we've got today to do that. It may require organizational design. It may require some modification, a new sensor on a platform, but the basic platforms are what we have today," Golson said.
Golson said the complex environment includes different kinds of conflict, ambiguous conditions, a multitude of threats, wide range of capabilities and expanded operating areas that require increased range. What it boils down to is providing mobility for the ground force, Golson said.
"You've got to have mobility in all terrain sets and the only way to do that is flying. The tactical mobility Army Aviation brings to the Army is going to be in high demand in the future," Golson said. "The bottom line is we're there for the ground force. We don't fly for the sake of flying."
According to the panel, stand-alone training is a thing of the past. The direction the Army is headed is training at home station and blending different types of training, including live, virtual and constructive training.
Ongoing studies for Unmanned Aircraft Systems include a holistic review under way for the 150U Military Occupation Specialty, and a full-spectrum combat Aviation brigade study that will help determine whether Army Aviation needs more full-spectrum CABs in the future, said panel member Col. Grant Webb, TRADOC capability manager for UAS.
Webb also said the UAS community continues to move toward the universal operator concept, capable of operating different UAS.
With the fiscal constraints as a backdrop, a major theme of the day was Army Aviation will not sacrifice the quality of training, regardless of potential budget impacts in the future.
"As we deal with this decrement, we're not going to reduce the standard, we're going to reduce the (student) load," said Col. Douglas M. Gabram, USAACE deputy commander.
Gabram headed up a panel focused on factors in procurement of Aviation assets, combined arms training strategy, flight school model, leadership and education courses at Fort Rucker, home station training considerations and simulations training. Students from the Captain's Career Course participated in discussions about logging flying time in the future and the right mix of simulations and live training.
Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Thomson Jr., Aviation Branch command sergeant major, asked industry and enlisted Soldiers for smart solutions on how to best capture experiential learning in a digital log book in the future. Thomson said he wants to tie relevant civilian certifications to promotions, e.g., Federal Aviation Administration certifications.
The bottom line of the event is the Aviator's sacred trust with commanders and Soldiers on the ground, and ensuring the dialogue between Aviation and industry continues as requirements are developed, said Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general.
"As we learned today, for some of the problems we are trying to solve there are solutions readily available," Mangum said in his closing remarks. "The challenge now is figuring out how we're going to pay for them, and that's no small challenge. But there are some great ideas out there. I look forward to working with you to solve some tough training challenges and take on some tough training initiatives."