Solutions to Army Aviation mission challenges and readiness were center stage during the last week in April at the annual Army Aviation Association of America Summit in Nashville.

Along with fellow senior leaders, AMCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Doug Gabram delivered the command's messages Thursday and Friday, emphasizing that readiness is our number one priority and that AMCOM is the materiel integrator for the branch, which provides mission solutions to the force.

During a senior Army Aviation leader question-and-answer session with the command's other key leaders, Gabram laid the mission-solution foundation for both the present and the future.

"The 'so-what' in all of this is delivering aviation and missile sustainment and materiel readiness to meet Army requirements," Gabram said. "We have a sustainment strategy and a new campaign plan that are output based and that align with Army and AMC priorities as well as Combatant Commander requirements. Our four lines of effort: sustainable materiel readiness, future Army, human dimension and resource management all lead into outputs for the Army."

It's been about a year since AMCOM came under a mission realignment order that brought the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center and the Army Contracting Command-Redstone under Gabram's operational control.

"Under what we call Operation Unified Action, we also have eight core competencies that work in concert to operationalize our output," Gabram said. "For example, we are working to reduce the repair cycle time at our Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas on UH-60 Black Hawks. To do this, we are using the 'art of the probable', which is a concept based on constraints that incorporate business rules with a workforce change in culture. CCAD is our national security insurance policy."

Col. Allen Lanceta is the CCAD Commander.

"We want to make sure that we are getting aircraft back out the warfighter quickly," Lanceta said. "Every action has a constraint, a bottleneck. We attack those several ways: resources, labor, and process. We look 120 days out before an aircraft is inducted, which permits us to forecast our planning needs to meet the demand within what the warfighter needs."

CCAD is also poised to accept the UH-60V mission.

"We plan to execute that mission in a much faster and streamlined way." Lanceta said. "That process is becoming mature and gaining momentum. This has not been an easy thing to do.. But with incremental changes and improvements, we are making progress."

The Army Chief of Staff recently received a UH-60V simulator demonstration at Redstone.

"The 'so what' on this is that the 60 Victor is government designed, government integrated and hopefully government produced," Gabram said. "The Victor cockpit is going to be just like a Mike model cockpit. This has never been done before."

On another topic, Jen Judson from Defense News, asked the Commander about maintenance balance.

"We have been contractor reliant for a lot of good reasons," Gabram said. "But the second-order effect is that we lost basic maintenance capabilities when we deployed units to Afghanistan without their aviation support battalions. Now we've gotten more Soldiers into theater to do maintenance tasks, which is a good thing. Further, the Holistic Aviation Assessment Task Force has recommended that we standardize the contractor/Soldier mix."

Judson also asked about the command's efforts to prevent corrosion.

"This is a billion-dollar problem," Gabram said. "We look at units and supply support activities to see how parts are stored. Plus, as an enterprise, we have made large strides to prevent corrosion when we transport aircraft on ships."

Col. Andy Gignilliat, AMCOM Logistics Center, also addressed corrosion.

"We have corrosion challenges in three main areas: facilities and containers, training and materials, where we use preventive coatings and additives to figure out what mitigates best."
The theme for the final day of the conference was 'Sustaining the Fleet'. Gabram began the session by showing a brief CBS 60 Minutes clip featuring Gen. Vincent Brooks on the Demilitarized Zone in Korea prefaced by the question 'What keeps us up at night?'

"We will sustain Iraq and Afghanistan at some level into the foreseeable future," Gabram said. "We must also be ready to face the near-peer competitor threat that demands our constant attention."

The Commanding General then noted that his BlackBerry lights up every morning at 6 a.m.

"Daily, I get aviation and missile readiness status rates from around the world," Gabram said. "The bottom line is that we need to be able to fight tonight, but we also need to be able to fight tomorrow. We must be able to sustain always in an austere environment, because we don't know how long we are going to be on the battlefield."

While the Army aviation strategy synchronizes reach, protection, lethality and sustainability, the underlying key element relies on reducing Soldier maintenance burden and logistics footprint.

In line with that, The Holistic Aviation Assessment Task Force, toward that reduction goal, has recommended changes to scheduled maintenance and the use of Condition Based Maintenance.
Conferences like the annual Army Aviation Association of America Summit in Nashville help the branch's senior leaders ensure that their efforts are synchronized so the branch can continue to meet Army priorities and COCOM commander requirements while ultimately increasing readiness for Soldiers.