By Erin Murray, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 8, 2011) -- Fort Rucker Air Traffic Services Command hosted more than 20 Soldiers and civilians at the biannual contingency airfield management workshop last week, making it the third successful workshop since ATSCOM began efforts to train Aviators in airfield management after combat missions began in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The three-day workshop was attended by active duty, National Guard, Reserve and civilian air traffic control staff and consisted of two days of classes on airfield management and a third day of hands-on training at Hatch Stagefield.
"We organized this workshop to give Soldiers who are getting ready to deploy the necessary skills," said Mark Hampton, instructor of the workshop. Hampton has more than 20 years of air traffic control experience as well as experience with writing doctrine tactics for the Aviation community before joining ATSCOM last December.
According to Hampton, airfield management encompasses the responsibilities for organizing and gathering the equipment and personnel necessary to provide a safe aircraft operation for Army, Air Force and coalition forces. Before engagements in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Force personnel were primarily responsible for these duties, but the presence of Aviators to serve as senior airfield authority has increased significantly.
"There's not enough airfield management in the Air Force to go around. Due to a need in the Army, we found that airfield management is something that's required of our Aviation forces. We're working very closely with Fort Rucker to develop the right solution for this because our combat Aviation brigade has to perform this role that is a critical function," said Col. James R. Macklin, Jr., commander, U.S. Army Air Traffic Services Command.
The workshop became the "in-house solution" to help accommodate the need for Army Aviators in airfield management until combat engagements end and training can occur long before deployments, said Macklin.
"Fort Rucker has addressed this and USAACE is actively pursuing a solution. We are going to get there, but as with anything it's a changing environment that we have to constantly be looking at. We want to look for what's after the war. You can't model training for the current fight. We have to be thinking beyond," he said.
Both Hampton and Macklin said that ATSCOM's contingency airfield management workshop was the immediate solution to the problems faced at combat airfields, hosting up to 50 attendants at ever biannual session. The workshop aims to provide soldiers with adequate airfield training from lessons learned on recent deployments.
"We're trying to make it as realistic and as relevant as possible. The Army is routinely given airfields where it is being told it is the senior airfield authority," said Macklin.
Sgt. 1st Class John Devon , 204th Theater Airﬁeld Operations Group operations NCO, said that the workshop expanded on things he was familiar with by using lessons learned in recent combat.
"This is a one-of-a kind opportunity for those in this arena to gain knowledge of what is happening in theater now," he said.
Along with providing the three-day workshop, ATSCOM has established mobile training teams that bring the lessons from the workshop to brigades approaching deployment. Macklin said that on a recent deployment, he met Soldiers from all over who had attended the ATSCOM training and had seen the benefits.
"It's been a positive thing. We get a lot of feedback from the units. It's a success story."