By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 9, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army consists of multiple organizations designed to work as one when taking on world threats, and members of two Army centers of excellence came together recently to ensure seamless collaboration when it comes to working together.
The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence reached out to the Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to provide expertise in Aviation tactics, doctrine and simulation, as well as to build relationships to better enhance training, according to Capt. Robert Kelly, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, combined arms division chief.
The trip, which ran from Oct. 16-20, was the first of its kind and Kelly coordinated with Capt. Erick Balish, Field Artillery Captain's Career Course small group leader, to get the approval needed from leadership on both sides for the visit to Fort Sill in support of the FACCC course, which included subject-matter experts from various USAACE organizations, including the 1st Aviation Brigade, the Directorate of Training and Doctrine, and the Fort Rucker Directorate of Simulations
"I wanted to take some subject-matter experts from here at USAACE over to Fort Sill because they don't have any -- they have no Aviation officers at all within their schoolhouse," said Kelly. "Here (on Fort Rucker) you have artillery, armory and all these guys -- they have that, as well, just no Aviation."
The USAACE team included Kelly; Capt. Dustin Duncan, Aviation Captain's Career Course instructor; CW3 Rocky Jensen, Warrant Officer Advanced Course instructor; CW4 Lee Kokoszka and Staff Sgt. David Mills, both of DOTD; and Capt. Ken Weiss, Directorate of Simulations.
The main focus of the visit was to support the FACCC's main event following the class's cycle, which is a culminating event where groups of field artillery battalions and maneuver battalions compete against each other in a simulated battle.
Kelly wanted to be able to provide Aviation expertise in their training since Aviation support wasn't something the junior leaders had much experience in.
"They bring all sorts of enablers, like engineers, air defense artillery, but they don't have any Aviation, so they kind of just make it up. So, we decided that we'd bring some guys over there … to spend a week with them and provide all the information they need, and on top of that, we were going to help update their lesson plans on Army Aviation," which Kelly said weren't up to date.
The initial introduction and briefing by Kokoszka was well received with nearly 120 Soldiers in attendance to begin learning about the Aviation side of the support. He gave a classified briefing about Aviation platforms and the hybrid threats that are a risk to Aviation, and the role that artillery could play in helping support when it comes to suppression of enemy air defense.
"It was a great brief and the students were really engaged, and it really set the tone," said Kelly, adding that it was apparent that the junior leaders had very little experience when dealing with integrating Aviation tactics.
"You could see that a lot of them had a light turn on that showed them that there is a lot of stuff they can do with Army Aviation and a lot of things we need to plan and integrate with them," said Kelly.
Duncan and Jensen provided FACCC students with knowledge on the different capabilities that a combat Aviation brigade is able to offer, including on how and when to request air assets.
"The most important thing we can do is integrate all elements of the Army, so we can be prepared to win the next fight," said Duncan. "I felt we did a good job integrating Army Aviation with field artillery, so that we can better understand how to incorporate each other in a decisive action environment."
"This shows how we validate our systems from an outside perspective and it gives us clarity, depth and sustainability," added Jensen. "Leveraging functional assets … provided a non-evasive environment for us to provide insight from an Aviation perspective, coupled with their willingness to receive the information, allowed for a breadth of knowledge to be shared. I hope this is a continuing effort and that we can reciprocate."
Kelly said he hopes this is the beginning of a partnership that will help both sides to work together to integrate all aspects of training.
"Basically, what we wanted to do, under our combined arms theme, is see an inherent relationship between Army Aviation and field artillery," he said.