An Army Aviation handbook aims at a critical point in carrying out tactical operations--the Aviation platoon.
Army Techniques Publication 3-04.23, Army Aviation Platoons, which was released back in May, provides insight for platoon leaders on leadership roles, unit structure, training and missions for platoon-level leaders across the branch.
Lt. Col. Brian Schapker, doctrine division chief at the Directorate of Training and Doctrine, said the emphasis on platoons is intended to help the Army prepare for large scale combat operations.
“In the Army we are in the business of developing leaders, and for commissioned officers that starts at the platoon leader level,” Schapker said.
“It’s our small units that will engage with the enemy first, so a large majority of training should be focused on platoon level and below, because that sets a foundation. That forms a base for our collective team. This aviation platoons manual helps feed into that,” said Schapker.
The concise seven chapters include roles and responsibilities, a breakdown of Troop Leading Procedures, training with an emphasis on Mission Essential Task Lists, collective tasks and Training and Evaluation Outlines, and training management.
It also covers aviation missions, flight platoons (including attack, air cavalry, assault, command aviation, heavy lift, air ambulance, and Shadow and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems platoons), sustainment platoons and maintenance considerations, and aviation support platoons (including Air Traffic Services and Military Intelligence flight platoons) with some additional considerations regarding forward arming and refueling.
“It reemphasizes the core competencies of army aviation. It introduces the Army Training Strategy to junior leaders, and discusses troop leading procedures. It’s focused on the junior leaders, and trainers and educators throughout the Army aviation branch,” Schapker said.
“It helps leaders not only develop their platoons, but develop themselves as they understand the process, and gets them prepared for the next stage of their career,” he said.
The publication serves as a quick reference for new Aviation lieutenants, and aims to streamline the information gathering process for them.
“The goal is that every new lieutenant that comes out of (the Basic Officer Leadership Course) will be able to reference it digitally, and platoon sergeants can reference and utilize it as well,” Schapker said. “It also provides a reference for where to go for other things they may have questions about.”
Since every branch and center of excellence in the Army is different, and platoons are also different, the Aviation Center was allowed more freedom in developing the content for the branch.
Schapker said a team of noncommissioned officers at USAACE headed up by Sgt. 1st Class Taracus Jones, doctrine branch NCOIC, led the effort to create the publication. The NCOs reached out to the Aviation community for input, and produced the publication in less than a year.
“They’re the backbone of the Army, and to utilize that resource was phenomenal. It started coming together based off their hard work,” he said.
The publication also incorporated input from Aviation Captains Career Course students as part of the process.
Though the new document is not perfect, it serves as a guide, said Schapker.
The handbook is intended to make operations smoother and leaders’ lives easier when they reference it and use it in daily operations.
“In the end, the Army speaking a common language, and aviation speaking a common language is beneficial,” Schapker said.
Schapker said doctrine is always evolving.
“It is ever changing to the operational environment, to the enemy, to what we need to do on a day to day basis,” he said.
Going forward, the directorate welcomes feedback from the branch.
“This being a new pub, it’s been thru all the adjudication process, all the staffing process…but now it’s getting it out to the force and seeing what needs to be adjusted, that’s where it is right now,” he said.
Schapker said people may contact DOTD through the doctrine branch email to provide feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“We always welcome that feedback.”
The ATP can be found in the Army Publishing Directorate website at https://armypubs.army.mil/.