Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commander, quoted President John F. Kennedy to describe the significance of the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School Inactivation and 128th Aviation Brigade Activation Ceremony March 16 at Fort Eustis Murphy Field Sports Complex.
"When any worthwhile change is made, inevitable challenges must be met during the change process," said Crutchfield. "But, I know together we will make the most of these opportunities, and we'll continue to improve our great aviation branch."
The ceremony ended the schoolhouse organization under which aviation maintenance Soldiers were trained at Fort Eustis beginning in 1954 and establishing USAALS in 1983. It went on to create a brigade structure that will not only continue to train aviation logistics Soldiers but now provide the management and oversight that only a brigade structure can do.
"The re-flagging of USAALS to the 128th Brigade will streamline command-and-control functions across the entire aviation enterprise," said Crutchfield. "It will improve aviation maintenance training and, ultimately, create a more unified aviation center of excellence."
As a tenant activity on Fort Eustis, USAALS had previously been supported in administrative functions by the 8th Transportation Brigade. According to the USAACE decision process, due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure that moved the U.S. Army Transportation School and Center to Fort Lee, ultimately inactivating the 8th Trans. Bde., the schoolhouse was left without a command-and-control configuration.
In September 2011, USAACE, located at Fort Rucker, Ala., and the higher headquarters of USAALS, decided to transform the schoolhouse into a brigade structure to accomplish the training mission and ensure proper management of Soldiers .
Both Crutchfield and Col. Dean D. Heitkamp, 128th Avn. Bde. commander, agree the training purpose of USAALS remains the heart of the new brigade.
"Our mission has not changed, and neither has the undeniable passion that our military and civilian personnel have for producing aviation Soldiers that are trained, disciplined, skilled, fit and complete with the Army values who are ready to contribute to their units, " said Heitkamp.
During the ceremony, the colors for USAALS were cased while the colors for the 128th Avn. Bde. were unfurled. The brigade's motto, "Born Under Fire," is a testament to its origin fighting during the 1989-90 Operation Just Cause in Panama.
The 128th Avn. Bde. is made up of three battalions: the 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment; the 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment; and the 2nd Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment. The 1-222nd serves as the student battalion conducting Soldier indoctrination training by focusing on the Army values, physical conditioning, tasks and battle drills, and the warrior ethos of Army Aviation.
The 1-210th centers on attack helicopter airframe and armament systems training; and armed reconnaissance helicopter airframe and armament systems, electrical/electronic systems, and avionics training. The battalion also provides the aviation warrant officer technician basic and advanced courses. The 2-210th focuses on utility and cargo helicopter systems and subsystems; powerplant and powertrain structures; pneudraulics subsystems; and Latin American training.
The two battalions of the 210th Avn. Regt. both were activated during the ceremony by uncasing their colors. Previously, the battalions had served at Fort Rucker. The 1-222nd has been active on Fort Eustis since 2005.
Closing by addressing concerns about the change from a schoolhouse organization to a brigade structure, Heitkamp assured those in attendance the new unit could and would carry on the same level of expert instruction that made USAALS the first Training and Doctrine Command school to receive an accreditation rating of Training Institution of Excellence in 2008.
"…the newly-activated 128th Aviation Brigade retains the passion and inherent the structure necessary to ensure we continue the legacy of aviation maintenance training, and more effectively care for our Soldiers, civilians and families," Heitkamp said. "So, today is indeed a great day, and there is much to be proud of."