By Kelly MorrisOctober 11, 2019
It's an exciting time to be part of Army Aviation, as the Army sets the conditions to achieve Multi-Domain Operations 2028 capability.
As a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command entity, the Aviation Center of Excellence helps ensure the Army is ready for today, while also investing in tomorrow as it transforms the fielded force by integrating cutting edge technology, Soldier and leader development, and the tenets of the Army Profession.
A top priority for Aviation continues to be growing combat Aviation leaders who employ mission command while dispersed over great distances, according to Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker.
"It's all about leader development, and that means we've got to deliver the highest quality training to our aviation force out there that we possibly can," Francis said.
The training model that worked in the past must be adjusted going forward.
"We know we're going to have to modify leader development because the training model that has produced the best (counterinsurgency) Army in the world is not going to get it for MDO 2028. We're going to have soldiers, officers, warrant officers that are operating independently in remote locations that have to come together at a certain point in time to provide an effect," Francis said.
To put it in into perspective: today's lieutenants will be combat aviation brigade S3's and executive officers in 2028, and battalion commanders by 2035. Current sergeants will be platoon sergeants and command sergeants major when Aviation is multi-domain operations capable and ready. The newest warrant officers today will be seasoned standardization pilots, Aviation mission survivability officers, maintenance test pilots and safety officers by then.
"You're going to have to have leaders that are agile and adaptive, that know what they're doing, they know their doctrine, they have mastered the fundamentals of their profession that will allow that to occur in a high threat environment. It's imperative that we adapt and adjust how we're training our leaders right now," Francis said.
The branch is relooking the professional career development models as one effort to improve leader effectiveness.
Significant efforts across multiple areas of the DOTMLPF-P (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leader Development, Personnel, Facilities, Policy), are required to bring new technology in and synchronize efforts across the fielded and the future force, according to Francis.
"We cannot afford not to modernize," Francis said. "Our challenge is this--with a foot in both worlds, as the Force modernization proponent for fielded force, which is the force we have today, and the future force, we have to ensure we keep our current fleet up to standard so they can go fight and win tonight if required, while simultaneously going out and acquiring new capabilities that will lead us into the future."
A critical capability for MDO, Future Vertical Lift targets the priorities of Reach, Protection, Lethality, and Sustainment, to deliver combined arms maneuver to the joint force to fight and win in LSCO.
The Army must look beyond just the material solutions and focus also on the necessary facilities and training. Current facilities will most likely require adjustments to house the FVL platforms. The introduction of long range fires, increased speeds and ranges, air launched effects, and teaming of systems will also require changes to the facilities currently used to train these capabilities.
"As we move into the future, we have to make sure we're ahead of the bow wave on resources, facilities, and other things to ensure we're immediately ready to train when those things hit," said Francis.
Army Aviation is rapidly developing holistic doctrinal changes that will drive how the Army employs Aviation in Multi-Domain Operations.
Organization changes will also be required, with leap ahead technology, new platforms and emerging doctrine in order to strike a balance and optimize the current force while simultaneously preparing to integrate new materiel solutions. The Army must optimize the Aviation force to get maximum capacity while also integrating FVL.
Aviation must remain synchronized with other Centers of Excellence and Cross Functional Teams as the Army modernizes. Institutional and home station training will change, and the training base must expand also.
At Fort Rucker, the Center is adding more tactical applications into initial training so students arrive at their first unit more tactically proficient, as well as ramping up the training throughput and increasing its numbers of aircraft to meet demand.
The changes that are currently underway stem from the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which drives all planning documents in the Army. It outlined proximate and pacing threats for the foreseeable future. Based on that strategy, the Multi-Domain Operations concept was born.
This prompted Army Aviation to change the way it trains and fights, as the Army pivots away from counterinsurgency to Large Scale Combat Operations against potential peer or near-peer adversaries.
Army Aviation, operating in the third dimension, continues to provide the Joint force with the critical and decisive fires and movement as the aerial arm of Combined Arms Maneuver. Army Aviation helps penetrate the enemy's Anti Access and Area Denial and Integrated Air Defense Systems, dis-integrate components of the enemy's military system, and then exploit freedom of maneuver necessary to achieve strategic and operational objectives in order to return to competition on terms favorable to the Joint force.
Partnerships with industry, including leap ahead technology, ensure Aviation remains survivable as it becomes Multi-Domain Operations capable by 2028. Aviation also will invest in the continued readiness of its existing fleets (AH-64s, UH-60s, and CH-47s) that are slated to remain in the fight for at least the next 20 years.