Reserve Component / By BG J. Ray Davis: In early 2019 the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) agreed on the need for a stop gap measure, which would increase Army AH-64D aircraft qualification throughput.
2LT Hart and WO1 Searcy, 1-211 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Utah Army National Guard wait for their first live-fire gunnery at Lakeside Range, Utah. 2LT Hart is a graduate of the ARNG AH-64D MTT. / U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO BY CW2 FRED BITTNER, UTAH ARNG
The result was the ARNG stepping forward and establishing an MTT. The ARNG had previous experience conducting MTTs but what set this one apart from others is it would exist for a much longer time-period and operate from Hanchey Army Airfield, Ft. Rucker, AL. The MTT basically operated as a mini ARNG Aviation Training Site.
The Mission and Framework
The MTT mission was to conduct AH-64D Aircraft Qualification Course (AQC) training and meet pilot shortages in the ARNG’s four Attack Reconnaissance Battalions (ARB). The ARNG pilots attending the AQCs were either transitioning to the AH-64D aircraft or recent Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) Graduates. Fulfilling the ARB’s pilot needs is critical to sustain the unit’s compressed availability and deployment cycle.
Establishing MTT operational capability in June 2019 could not have occurred without a true Aviation Enterprise Team approach. Department of the Army (DAMO-AV), USAACE and the ARNG collaborating to establish funding, support lines of effort and setting the conditions to place the MTT on a successful path.
The framework for the MTT task organization consisted of a command team with subordinate maintenance, flight operations and service support sections. Over the course of the MTT the ARNG had well over seventy-five personnel support the mission and typically twenty-five personnel on any given training day. The ARB States; Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah provided on average seven aircraft to support the MTT.
Prior to MTT initiation the ARNG established autonomous contracting mechanisms to support the MTT. The ARNG and MTT having control over the contract needs proved extremely valuable to support the MTT and providing second level complementary aircraft maintenance support.
During certain periods of time, utilizing time sensitive military air availability, the ARNG was able to effectively surge support personnel from across the States and facilitate 24 hours / seven days a week (three shifts) MTT. The influx of precise personnel and skill needs for the surge ensured continuing high aircraft operational readiness rates over 80 % and successfully meeting the surge training demands.
As with any operational mission capturing lessons learned assists in improving similar missions in the future. A distractor as well as a benefit was the varying status (assignment orders) and periods of service of the MTT personnel. Managing and supporting personnel on different assignment orders generated some administrative challenges. However, the varying status options provided flexibility especially during training surges. In hindsight, having all the primary Cadre on Active Duty Operational Support (ADOS) might best serve a future MTT, while utilizing ADOS and other options for personnel supporting the training surges or personnel rotating in and out of MTT service.
By drawing from the ARB’s readily available Prescribed Load Lists (PLL) and bench stock, the MTT was well prepared to initiate the MTT and reduce demand on USAACE for PLL and parts. The MTT returned unused and serviceable PLL as well as bench stock to the respective ARBs after MTT closure. Reaching back to Mississippi’s Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group (TASMG) proved vital in providing storage cabinets for the 3500 lines of bench stock worth approximately $13 million assisting the MTT with aircraft “bag kit” installations.
A Job Well Done
Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Soldiers who voluntarily left families and friends behind to operate the MTT, many of whom returned from recent unit deployments or are scheduled for a future deployment. The MTT, with supporting USAACE efforts, was extremely successful having flown 1,550 hours and qualifying twenty-one ARNG / two Active Component AH-64D Pilots. The AH-64 MTT exceeded expectations and serves as an excellent template for future ARNG MTTs operating at Ft. Rucker, AL.
Always Ready, Always There!
BG J. Ray Davis is the National Guard Assistant Director for ARNG Aviation and Information Warfare, Army National Guard, Arlington, VA.