By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 28, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28, 2013) -- U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence senior leaders, Aviators and industry representatives gathered at The Landing March 21 to discuss future Aviation training on the installation in order to find the most efficient way to train Aviators with the constraints that have been placed upon the Army.
Training is essential to the Army and its Soldiers, so in order to remain deployment ready Fort Rucker officials have to become smarter, more efficient and more effective in how they train in the future, according to Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general.
"The impact on Fort Rucker alone from sequestration is more than $250 million between now and Oct. 1. We are taking about a 20-percent cut. We have to be smarter on how we use training aids, devices and simulation systems to ensure that we maintain [our] proficiency and competency," he said.
The event had two main purposes, according to Col. Stephen S. Seitz, USAACE director of simulations, both of which were of equal importance.
"[We wanted] to provide a forum where industry producers of training aids, device simulators and simulations could demonstrate and present what training industry has to offer and showcase emerging technology-based training enablers," he said. "Second, the event provided a forum for dialog between USAACE leaders, requirements generators, training writers and instructors, students and future leaders."
Vendors had the opportunity to listen to the senior leaders' presentations and have direct discussions with them. Each panel focused on a different theme ranging from enlisted Aviation training initiatives and challenges to future Aviation challenges and changes.
"The interaction with the industry that supports us today is very important so everyone's priorities are understood and communicated for success in future business opportunities," said Seitz.
The Aviation Training Industry Day is a paradigm shift from the traditional conference forums that industry displays have typically been presented at, but was a good solution to keep people educated while saving the Army money, according to the director.
"With this approach, military personnel can remain at home station and the industry vendors bring their product displays to us. By bringing them here we get more participation without spending money on things such as TDY," he said.
The Landing was busting at the seams with more than 1,000 attendees, and 40 vendors and sponsors. People from all over North America came to the event-- some came from as far as Canada, Philadelphia and Texas. There were more than five companies that demonstrated simulators. Other exhibits featured live aircraft, weapons technology, survival equipment and unmanned aircraft systems.
"They are here to sell things, but we are not in the position to buy at the moment," said Seitz. "However, a lot of what we are looking at is training aids that we can use in the future in lieu of live training that costs so much more. The requirement for training is not going to stop as long as we have an Army."
Mangum spoke about training initiatives and challenges and went through his top 10 priorities. Aviation training, UAS, aircraft maintenance and home station training were topics among his top 10.
"I think we are going to have an industry day every six months with a different theme each time. I think it is important for us to do this," he said, adding that industry can learn just as much from Fort Rucker as Fort Rucker can learn from them.
Most attendees seemed impressed with the new technology and aircraft that may be put into training and live action war fighting in upcoming years.
"I am new to flight school and Aviation as a whole, so I wanted to see what kind of technology is out there for us. A lot of this stuff is not in the force now, but we will see it implemented to our units in a few years, and that gets me excited," said 2nd Lt. Matthew Carter, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.
W01 Elliot Worel, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, agreed, adding that the new simulators could save money and time, as well as lives.
"A platform like the Mounted Arms Simulator can save so much money on fuel and ammunition. There are so many great tools and ideas here today," he said.