By Miles BrownDecember 2, 2019
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Leaders from across the Army's aviation enterprise gathered with key industry representatives to identify solutions for some of the most challenging sustainment issues facing today's Army aviators during the 47th Annual Cribbins Aviation Product Support Symposium Nov 20-21 at the Von Braun Center.
The theme for this year's Army Aviation Association of America symposium was "Sustainment of Army Aviation in Multi-Domain Operations." The AAAA's Tennessee Valley chapter hosted the event with help from U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Program Executive Office (Aviation), Army Futures Command and industry partners.
AMCOM Commander, Maj. Gen. Todd Royar, highlighted some of the challenges facing AMCOM and the Army in an ever-changing and complex world during his address at the symposium.
"The reality is we need more "trigger-pullers" to go out there and fight the fight," said Royar. "If we can reduce the logistics burden, we have an opportunity to have more trigger-pullers."
Royar discussed the Army aviation enterprise sustainment objectives and existing sustainment gaps. These gaps range from issues with aviation enterprise synchronization and reporting to expeditionary sustainment solutions and training. In total, Royar drilled-down to some of the underlying issues for nine sustainment process gaps identified by an aviation enterprise cross-functional team over the last year. He also addressed industry representatives in the audience to solicit their help to reduce these gaps.
Throughout Royar's discussion on sustainment strategy needs, he identified opportunities for industry to help the Army reduce Soldiers' maintenance burden, expand test and tooling commonality and improve performance to promise rates across the aviation enterprise.
"We have a lot of work to do, and it is my job to lead the aviation sustainment community through the challenges, in conjunction with the rest of the aviation leadership, and all go down the same path together," said Royar.
A recurring theme on both days of the symposium was the importance of identifying sustainment requirements early when the Army starts the process of procuring new aircraft. Both the Program Executive Officer (Aviation), Maj. Gen. Thomas Todd, and the Director of U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, Brig. Gen. Walter Rugan, stressed this theme during their presentations to symposium attendees.
The key, according to Royar, is to keep aviation sustainment front and center as the Army continues to develop strategies for Multi-Domain Operations.
"There are decisions to be made about trade-offs of time, resources and priorities, but we want to make sure sustainment is not forgotten," said Royar, who is also the Army Airworthiness Authority. "We need to make sure sustainment stays at the forefront in every decision, along with all the other parameters, to ensure Army readiness. The enduring Army aviation systems are going to be in service for a while, and we need everyone's help to reduce the Soldier's burden and give commanders more time to use the aircraft. Ultimately it is about that Soldier in the field and enabling Army readiness."
According to Gary Nenninger, president of the Tennessee Valley chapter, Huntsville is the perfect place to hold this annual event.
"Redstone Arsenal is now the home of Army aviation development, engineering, testing, acquisition and sustainment," said Nenninger. "What we do here is focus on those things needed to advance Army aviation readiness and sustainment. The objective from the start of these meetings is to bring operators from the field together with the Redstone community to address readiness and sustainment with industry. There is a passion about aviation in this community, and this [event] is an opportunity for open discussions with industry to find solutions that address Army aviation needs."
The Cribbins two-day symposium is one of several professional forums available to Army aviators in Huntsville annually. AMCOM hosted more than 200 aviators during AMCOM 101 in August. The professional forum gave Army general officers, combat aviation brigade commanders, aviation maintenance and supply officers, senior noncommissioned officers and other personnel the opportunity to learn how AMCOM can help them remain combat-ready.