FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 26, 2012) -- Fort Rucker hosted 300 leaders from across U.S. Army Aviation, including active duty and retired general officers, who gathered here Jan. 23-26 to chart the future course of Army Aviation.

The Aviation Senior Leaders Conference provides an annual opportunity for leaders, including trainers, warfighters and developers, to come back to the home of Army Aviation and together work through challenges they face as a Branch that continues to be a force multiplier for the Army.

Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, opened the event with a call for the Branch not to rest on its laurels, but to follow through on the vision for the future of Army Aviation -- a Branch that in the past 10 years has flown more than 4.5 million hours.

"What about tomorrow? The nation still calls Army Aviation to do its bidding and to remain 'above the best.' Our Soldiers have performed magnificently. Our leaders have led unlike any other time in our Branch's history. Our Families have sacrificed everything for the reputation this Branch holds today. Our aircraft and our equipment have endured operational tempos none of us could have imagined. It has surpassed all our expectations, and it was all done through the leadership that is in this room. We will continue to do so," Crutchfield said.

The general called on attendees to commit to critical thinking, and to continue to speak with one voice in a world that is changing and an era of constrained resources.

"Today's efforts are tomorrow's history. Nobody's going to care about what we did. They're going to care about what we will do," Crutchfield said.

As Army Aviation begins to rebuild, retrain and realign, it will focus and synchronize efforts according to the Army Aviation 2030 vision, and by developing the Army Aviation Campaign Plan, while remaining consistent with the Army Campaign Plan. This includes rethinking current ways of doing business, he said.

Two primary goals for the future are to sustain agile and adaptive leaders who thrive in complex and uncertain environments; and to assess the future to develop and modernize the platforms that can deliver what the force needs for the future -- that is, fly faster, lift more and reduce logistical footprint, Crutchfield said.

The future fleet will include a new multi-role aircraft capable of increased speed, range and endurance over vast distances, will require fewer maintainers, and will include strong, professional leaders, he said.

"I don't think we have 20 years to do this. We have 10 to 15 years, maybe, to figure this out. What I need from you is, how are we going to get there?" Crutchfield said.

The future force requires changes in the Army's approach to training, said Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., in his remarks at the first day's opening session.

"It's time to have a serious discussion about what it means to be an Army profession," Cone said.

The TRADOC CG called for a training revolution that includes leader development, building trust in senior leadership, capturing operational experience and fusing it into training manuals, and determining how to translate the commitment, discipline and sacrifice of Soldiers downrange to training back at home station, he said.

An important part of that discussion is the way today's technology-savvy generation learns new information.

"This young generation of Soldiers is used to being able to reach out and get information at the moment they need it. Just watch anybody with Google, and fact checking and those kinds of things. How do we take that same concept and tie it to the Army repository of knowledge, so when a mechanic is working on something or a Soldier is trying to solve a problem, he can use these same digital tools to tap into the best information available to make a decision or to learn. I think learning in a dynamic sense, to touch that information at that critical point, is really what we're after in the Army Learning Concept," Cone said.

Cone closed his remarks by urging Army Aviation leaders to think about the legacy they are leaving behind them, the need for mentoring the future force and with his thanks.

"I'm amazed at the level of professionalism and complexity I see here," he said. "It's great to be with your leadership team here at Fort Rucker, with Tony and Kim Crutchfield, and I think they're doing a tremendous job. You can see it by the energy of the Branch. I think Army Aviation, although we've got some tough times ahead, is in pretty good hands."