By Kelly Pate, Fort Rucker Public AffairsFebruary 13, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 13, 2014) -- More than 150 senior leaders returned to the home of Army Aviation at Fort Rucker Feb. 3-6 to chart the Branch's future.
The Aviation Senior Leaders Forum provided a chance for commanders and command sergeants major, senior warrants and command chief warrant officers across Army Aviation to interact and weigh in on key issues.
The theme this year was how to sustain the indispensible capability Army Aviation has amassed over the years and provided to the warfight, and the most fundamental part of that is trust, said Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker.
"The reason we exist is to remain relentlessly focused on and dedicated to honoring that sacred trust with commanders and Soldiers on the ground. All of our efforts are focused on that end," Mangum said, as he opened the forum Feb. 4.
Those efforts include how to get the most out of home station training and flying-hour dollars in light of fiscal challenges, Mangum said.
"Army Aviation must figure out where we are with the fiscal environment and how do we build the best Aviation force we can within those constraints," Mangum said.
Mangum called for a change of mindset in order to become a more agile and expeditionary Aviation force in the future, and for more deliberate planning.
Key Aviation topics include manned-unmanned teaming, modernization strategy, training and leader development, lessons learned from recently deployed combat Aviation brigades, combined arms air-ground maneuver and enlisted training.
Gen. Robert W. Cone, Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general, commended the participants on Army Aviation's leadership across the force.
"This Branch represents the very best of our Army when we talk about standards, discipline and trust. As the Army's lead trainer, I recognize that all of that starts here (at Fort Rucker)," Cone said.
Cone said what he sees on the Army's horizon is a significant increase in the velocity of human interaction, and a shift toward expeditionary maneuver that will require the force to be more versatile and agile.
For Aviation, that means more virtual training and more manned-unmanned teaming as we move toward Force 2025, Cone said.
In an afternoon session, Ellis Golson, director for the Capability Development and Integration Directorate for USAACE, provided an update on current CDID efforts including updates to doctrine manuals, focusing on home station training, changes in Aviation courses and multiple efforts across the TRADOC capability managers here.
"We want to make sure we are managing the force as best we can as we start to draw down," Golson said.
Aviation requirements for the future include collecting and developing actionable combat information, moving personnel, equipment and supplies by air, and destroying or neutralizing enemy forces, Golson said.
Golson also led a panel discussing the challenges ahead as Aviation looks at developing formations that are tailorable, agile, expeditionary and deployable.
Brig. Gen. Bob Marion, Program Executive Officer for Aviation, Redstone Arsenal, gave an update on modernization, including the strategy of buying modernized airframes to save money, and how the Branch can best support the Army in the way ahead.
The roster of speakers Feb. 4 also included Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, Army Aviation and Missile Command commander, Redstone Arsenal and Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, commander of the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.
After breakout sessions the morning of Feb. 5, the afternoon lineup kicked off with a panel session about achieving readiness at best value led by Col. Mike Aid, commander of the Aviation Center Logistics Command here, which manages the maintenance of the training fleet. Topics included maintenance procedures and leveraging the team, and an update on full-spectrum support to the fleet including training opportunities at Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas.
Aviation Branch Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Thomson Jr. led a session about a holistic approach to the Aviation enlisted training model 2015, and a "job book" Army-level initiative for tracking Army careers.
Col. Robert C. Doerer, deputy commander for USAACE, led a panel discussion focused on leader development and talent management.
Feb. 6, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander, Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., guest spoke via video teleconference, about air-ground operations and Army Aviation's vital role as a maneuver arm.
The bottom line is "Aviation is what makes the warfight unfair. Our Army's asymmetric advantage is our ability to fight in three dimensions, and to conduct combined arms air-ground maneuver," McMaster said. "Nobody should want a fair fight."
From the maneuver perspective, the Army needs manned and unmanned, scout and attack capability to win the fight today and in the future, he said.
Other forum participants included command team Col. Tom Drew, commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, and Sgt. Maj. Stuart O'Black, 101st CAB. For them the event was an opportunity to realign with the direction the Army and Army Aviation Branch is heading.
"It's a chance to center ourselves, and to cross talk and have discussions we wouldn't have otherwise," O'Black said.
Drew said it's important at a time when there is anxiety in the force due to fiscal constraints, to garner the lessons and relationships forged among Aviation leaders here to ensure from the top down to the lowest levels every Soldier is in step.
"All of us across the Aviation Enterprise, whether you're a tactical unit, a TDA unit, or program manager, we can all get together and talk about our profession and make sure we understand where we're going," Drew said, "because when you're [in the field] you're not focused on where the branch is going, you're focused on your mission."