Army Aviation

A Change to the Aviation Training Mindset

Aviation Survivability / By CW5 James O. VanMeter: As the Army prepares for the possibility of a Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) against a peer/near-peer adversary, the mission of Army Aviation is evolving to meet the needs of the War-fighter. This evolution in training and readiness will provide increased aircrew survivability and maneuver force flexibility. To enable this training program the Aviation Mission Survivability Officer (AMSO) track has undergone a total restructure. At every command level in a combat aviation brigade (CAB) the AMSO plays a vital role in preparing aircrews for the tactical missions within a complex, contested battlespace. The AMSO increases the combat readiness of the aviation warfighter by enhancing the training of aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) employment, providing intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), evaluating mission threat risk, training tactical evasive flight maneuvering, developing Aviation Mission Survivability (AMS) training, and accessing the unit’s AMS program. Starting with a professional military education (PME) revision, training requirements, additional schooling, and doctrine and regulation changes the AMSO track is completely redefined and is a valuable asset to unit commanders.

U.S. Soldiers assigned to 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, brief fellow soldiers in a tactical operations command during Decisive Action Rotation 18-04 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 17, 2018. The tactical operations command is used to visualize their next mission. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY PVT BROOKE DAVIS, OPS GP, NTC, FT. IRWIN, CA

Redefining the AMSO

With the release of the 2018 Individual Critical Task List (ICTL) replacing the 2012 ICTL, the AMSOs gained 13 tasks, bringing the total to 21. The 2018 ICTL redefined the AMSO’s position and established measurable tasks while moving Army Aviation away from a counter-insurgency (COIN) focus to a large scale combat operations (LSCO) ready force. This was a step in the right direction but as the AMSO’s role continued to evolve, the 2018 ICTL quickly became outdated and a new ICTL was needed. There is a current effort to conduct a review and revision of the ICTL and establish new critical tasks, aligning the AMSO to better support Tactics training and mission readiness. The capability and responsibility of the ASMO to train and evaluate is expected to expand far beyond previous responsibilities since the track was established. This growth of responsibility does not replace or impede the role of an instructor pilot (IP) but rather supplements and standardizes the tactical mission training across the force. Each commander should leverage the skills and experience of the standardization pilot (SP), IPs and AMSO to balance the unit’s training plan and expand the skill set of each aviator within his/her formation. The United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) Directorate of Training and Doctrine (DOTD) Survivability Branch, Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization (DES), and Aviation Survivability Development and Tactics (ASDAT) are working diligently to update and create the doctrine, revise training, and validate tactics that enhance survivability across all missions and airframes. These initiatives require the dedication and perseverance of the AMSO and SP/IPs to disseminate and educate at all levels throughout the Army. This article provides insight into the immense efforts to ready the force while seizing the opportunity to shape and influence commanders, warfighters, and our industry partners to invest more in this critical Aviation team.

The AMS Triad

Each aviator must change the way they think in terms of mission planning and aircrew preparation for this type of large scale fight. USAACE DOTD Survivability Branch has developed the Aviation Mission Survivability triad as a catalyst to shift Aviation’s training focus. The AMS triad establishes the basic tenents for increased survivability for mission success in an anti-access aerial denial (A2AD) environment. It represents the dependency of the three tenents on one another and the need to train/prepare each part equally. The three parts of the triad are Understanding Threat, Fused Mission Planning, and Evasive Flight Tactics. The base tenent of the AMS triad is Understanding Threat. This encompasses a vast amount of knowledge on multiple threat weapon systems. It includes the threat system’s capabilities and limitations, adversarial employment of the system, ASE’s ability to detect the threat, and capability of the ASE to disrupt/defeat the threat. The second tenent, Fused Mission Planning is new to Conventional Army Aviation but necessary to establish individual and collective understanding of the dynamic environment. The fused mission planning process is a collaborative effort between the unit’s intelligence officer (S2), electronic warfare officer (EWO) and the AMSO to provide an intelligence based, three dimensional picture of the battlespace during a specific snapshot of time. This allows mission planners to develop ingress and egress routes that provide the lowest threat risk to the mission. The Evasive Flight Tactics is the third tenent and is defined as a reaction to an unplanned threat engagement. Flight tactics encompass reactionary flight maneuvers executed in an immediate reactionary manner to defeat/disrupt a threat weapon system’s engagement sequence. Without the other two parts of the triad these flight maneuvers are limited in their capabilities. Each aircrew should train maneuvers within a scenario, having already applied the first two tenents of the AMS triad.

An AH-64D Apache attack helicopter from Company B, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, fires self-protection flares while conducting combat operations near Camp Taji, Iraq./ COURTESY PHOTO 1ST AIR CAV BDE., 1ST CAV. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS

AMS Program Focus

The Army’s ASE program continues to grow at a rapid pace and requires significant devoted effort to training and sustaining aviation readiness. To accomplish this, AMSOs must focus on the Mission Essential Task List (METL) to define readiness with a thorough understanding of the training capabilities and resources available (e.g., computer-based, academic support packages, simulation, and live environments). AMSOs must harness advanced cognitive ASE Training Aids Devices Simulators and Simulations (TADSS). These include Computer-Based ASE Training (CBAT-O/C), aircraft technical simulators, Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT), and Man-portable Aircraft Survivability Trainer/Weapons Effective Signature Simulator (MAST/WESS). Future TADSS capabilities include Training ASE Simulation Suites (TASS) and ASE B-Kit Emulators (ABE). These TADSS each have unique strengths that must be leveraged, as well as weaknesses that must be mitigated by the AMSO, to provide the optimal training environment for the Aviation Warfighter. With the rapid development of new threats by our adversaries, changes in associated tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) AMSOs must be proactive and creative in the use of fielded TADSS to provide the knowledge and skill-sets necessary for success in future operations.

Tactics Development

Working with Army and Joint agencies the Survivability Branch completed the Aviation Radar Frequency Survivability Validation (AVRFSV) Quick Reaction Test (QRT) in early FY18. The AVRFSV QRT provided verified and validated aviation tactics to the joint rotary wing community while addressing a critical war-fighting gap and allowing aviation assets to remain survivable against current and emerging threats. Based on the collected AVRFSV’s data analysis, several classified and unclassified doctrinal products, to include a tactics manual, evasive flight tasks, and training support packages (TSP), were approved and published by USAACE DOTD. Throughout FY19 multiple updates and revisions to the DOTD products have occurred based on additional comprehensive analysis by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and other joint agencies. A current effort is underway to conduct the Joint Aviation Multi-ship Survivability Validation (JAMSV) QRT. The JAMSV QRT will optimize the use of fielded ASE, inform multi-ship TTPs, and enable freedom of maneuver in an A2AD contested environment. Additional doctrine updates are expected in late FY20 from the data analysis collected in JAMSV QRT.


A multi-tiered approach must be used to overcome the challenges of today’s resource limited force while synchronizing modernization with combat readiness. The production of viable and relevant regulations and doctrine will provide measurable goals to unit commanders while the improvement of simulated and synthetic training systems will provide realistic training necessary for aviator proficiency. All efforts of change and modernization are important and the changes in the Survivability Program parallel these efforts. A balanced blended solution provides necessary readiness across the multi-domain battlefield. The training burden upon each aviation unit is immense and time consuming. Therefore, success relies on improving and refining the training and skillsets provided by the AMSOs thus enabling units to meet readiness challenges and ensure the Aviation Warfighter will be ready to fly, fight and win on a dynamic, complex and contested battlefield.

Note: The Survivability Branch is always searching for interested and qualified personnel. If you feel that you have the experience and the ability to contribute to the Aviation Branch’s survivability areas of concentration, contact the DOTD Survivability Office for a consideration packet.

Above the best!

CW5 James O. VanMeter is the chief of the Survivability Branch, Directorate of Training and Doctrine, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, AL. Additional major contributors to this article were: CW5 Tobias Long, CW4 Kenneth Kimber, CW4 Lee Kokoszka, CW4 Jenny Litherland, CW4 Christian Ramirez, and CW4 Cesar D. Urquiza.