By Kelley Pate, Public Affairs OfficeApril 1, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A recent Army Aviation study was the key topic of the Army Aviation Association of America's general membership meeting at The Landing March 25.
Keynote speaker Ellis Golson, director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate, based here, addressed members of AAAA about the findings of Aviation Study II, which include significant changes in Army Aviation and the future of the Aviation Branch.
Golson's office, part of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, oversees the development of capability requirements for Army Aviation systems, including unmanned aircraft systems, to support the warfighter.
"The demand for Aviation is continuing to go up, despite what you hear about drawing down in Iraq. We're still going to be committed, and everybody wants more of us," Golson said.
More than 60 people from across the Army Aviation community, to include the Department of the Army, Fort Rucker, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Aviation Program Executive Office based at Redstone Arsenal, conducted Aviation Study II in 2009. The study was directed by DA's operations office to determine what Army Aviation "got right" out of a prior study in 2003, and to identify areas for improvement.
The study holistically reviewed Aviation forces - including structure, training and equipment - to make sure Army Aviation is relevant to support the warfighter for the foreseeable future.
One of the findings came as "no surprise," Golson said: that is, the Army needs more combat aviation brigades to reach the Army Chief of Staff's goal of longer dwell time at home duty station prior to redeployment for combat aviation brigades in the Army Force Generation rotation.
The target ratio is one year of deployment to two years at home station; currently the ratio is at 1 to 1.3 years. The Army currently has 12 active component CABs, and the study recommended adding a 13th CAB to help CABs achieve a ratio of one year of deployment to 1.7 years at home duty station.
"Now we have the challenge of getting it organized, selecting the unit and moving out with it," Golson said.
The 2009 study looked at the composition of those brigades and recommended a more standardized, modular design in support of ARFORGEN for the joint services war fight, he said.
Aviation Study II showed lift platforms, including UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks, are in high demand because these apply to almost every scenario, Golson said.
The study also showed an increase in demand for reconnaissance and surveillance.
The "full-spectrum" CAB, so called because it delivers maximum Aviation capabilities in the most flexible and timely manner across the full spectrum of operations, includes a reorganized armed reconnaissance squadron, and a manned and unmanned aircraft systems formation, Golson said.
"We've been talking about manned-unmanned (teaming) operations for a long time. It was time to quit talking about it and do something," he said, noting the study pointed to the "medium" CAB design as the formation of choice.
The medium CAB has all platforms, including attack, reconnaissance, lift, unmanned systems and air assault capability, and can be supported by the current aviation support battalion structure.
Recommendations to build the full-spectrum combat aviation brigade will be briefed to the Army Chief of Staff this month.
Earlier on March 25, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap was signed by Training and Doctrine Command leadership, Golson said, projecting the way ahead for Army UAS for the next 25 years.
"The genie's out of the bottle on UAS. They're not going away," he said. "Now that we have our plan approved and out on the street, we have something to refer back to, to keep everybody headed in the same direction. Without that plan, we would not have anything to guide our development, or the processes, procedures and resourcing to build the capabilities we need."
Golson said Aviation leaders in the future need to understand everything associated with Aviation.
USAACE and Fort Rucker Commanding General Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, who attended Golson's presentation, addressed the audience during a question and answer session.
"We're looking at manned, optionally manned, tethered, completely unmanned - there are so many variations out there that we've got to go after those in the future," he said.
Capt. Jeff Timmons, who also listened to the Aviation Study II presentation, said he can understand the potential in a CAB structure that includes unmanned aircraft systems.
"We would be able to better effect what the ground commander would want - to see farther, see more, see better and then also help train those UAS operators to be better scouts themselves," said the Aviation Captains Career Course member.