By MG Michael C. McCurry II
Army Aviation is the best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led Aviation force in the world.
To keep it that way, the Army must continue to transform across the DOTMLPF-P. This transformation requires a cohesive team of experts from across the enterprise that includes our industry partners for material development. It is the efforts and close partnership of the Aviation Center of Excellence, Army Futures Command, Program Managers, and Industry that allows us to deliver the best equipment for our Soldiers. Our collaboration with Industry allows the Army to reduce costs for innovation by sharing risk to deliver capabilities quickly with rapid prototyping and modern procurement processes.
Army Aviation’s history is replete with examples of successful advancements made possible by Industry investment and partnership. Industry’s positive influence in defending our Nation reached its zenith during World War II by enabling victory with massive weapon and materiel production on an unprecedented scale.
Following the Vietnam Conflict, the Army began focusing transformation in the 1980s on the capabilities of the “Big Five:” “Apache,” “Black Hawk,” “Bradley Fighting Vehicle,” “Abrams Main Battle Tank,” and the “Patriot Missile System” to enable the Air-Land Battle operational concept. Once again, the influence of Industry helped achieve the technological advantages we leveraged in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and over the last 30 years to adapt to the demands of continuous combat operations during the Global War on Terrorism. During this era, we modernized our aircraft, including the UH-60M, CH-47F, the AH-64 Longbow, the C-27J Spartan, and multiple unmanned aircraft systems, including the MQ-1 Gray Eagle.
Today, we are transforming the force to meet requirements for the future operational environment. Emerging and advanced technologies are changing the character of war and creativity and innovation is paramount to fight, win, and survive on the battlefield of today and tomorrow. As we see in our observations from the war in Ukraine, everything is a sensor on the battlefield—civilian, military, and commercial technologies are heavily leveraged to detect friendly and enemy activities. Data is seemingly limitless and requires Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to process and analyze information to allow commanders to make decisions at the speed of relevance.
Experimentation events such as “EDGE” and “Project Convergence” are mechanisms to actively pursue innovation. They provide scenario-driven opportunities for Soldiers, Army Aviation and Industry: A Legacy of Partnership in Innovation By MG Michael C. McCurry II Army Aviation is the best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led Aviation force in the world. U.S. Soldiers assigned to 7th Special Forces group and British Rangers assigned to 4th Rangers board a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment CH-47 Chinook as a part of Project Convergence 22 at Fort Irwin, California, Oct. 31, 2022. Project Convergence 22 experimentation incorporates technologies and concepts from all services and from multinational partners, including in the areas of autonomy, augmented reality, tactical communications, advanced manufacturing, unmanned aerial systems and long-range fires. ARMY AVIATION Magazine 12 December 31, 2022 Capability Developers, and Industry to work together to employ new concepts and technologies in realistic and challenging operational environments. It also enables us to integrate technology from our Joint and Allied Partners to ensure interoperability in MDO. Through the experimentation of emerging operational concepts and capabilities as a Joint Combined Arms Team, we can capture data to improve technologies, validate concepts, and improve performance across multiple domains by simulating the conditions and challenges we would face in Large Scale Combat Operations. This learning is critical to the success of our transformation efforts and ultimately, to the success of the Joint Combined Arms Team.
Army transformation for Large Scale Combat Operations is the most significant undertaking in 40 years. This effort is critical in maintaining our competitive advantage against any adversary across all domains. Army Aviation will continue to dominate in the lower tier of the air domain as part of the land component while influencing the others. Industry partnership is essential for achieving requirements to put the right equipment and capabilities in our Soldiers’ hands to win at the time and place of our choosing.
Future Vertical Lift
New developments in Future Vertical Lift (FVL) allow the Army and Joint Force to operate from strategic distances required to create and exploit relative advantages in multidomain operations. Science and Technology collaboration between Army Aviation and Industry influences not only materiel transformation but also shapes future requirements for doctrine, training, and sustainment to integrate future systems into the force seamlessly.
Our recent investments in Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (FTUAS) are also rapidly materializing as we plan for early fielding of advanced UAS to select locations over the next year. We are already leveraging the lessons we learned together with Industry Partners during FTUAS technology development to inform the roles and mission requirements of Air-Launched Effects (ALE) to enable the Joint Force to fight and win on the battlefields of tomorrow. AI and ML will improve the lethality of multiple materiel systems by enabling rapid decision-making and reducing reaction times, but this will be an evolution not an overnight development.
AI and ML technologies are maturing to augment or emulate human cognition in the future. These advancements require a “path to autonomy” and close alignment with Science and Technology efforts, and our concepts team is leading the way.
As our Branch forges into the future, we are studying and learning from the heroic achievements of our predecessors that embody our motto—“Above the Best.” The best of Army Aviation is not only those who wear the uniform, but also our Civilians and Contractors who are technological Pioneers and Partners of Industry. Their imagination, passion, and aptitude remain a driving force for change and transformation. Together we will continue to uphold the Sacred Trust that Army Aviation has with the Soldier on the Ground.
Above the Best!
MG Michael C. McCurry II is the Army Aviation branch chief and commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, AL.
AAAA President’s Cockpit / MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired:
One AAAA national event down with two more to go before the end of the calendar year.
By all measures the September 11-13, 2022 Aircraft Survivability Equipment Symposium in Lexington, KY was a great success. From the over 400 attendees and the outstanding awardees and families, to the terrific industry partner support in the exhibit hall, we were very fortunate indeed to have such a record-breaking event considering we had not held one since 2019! See page xx for more details and photos. All that said, I feel I owe the attendees an apology because we just did not have enough seats… a good problem to have, and we vow to do better.
Now our focus shifts to Huntsville, Alabama. As we move to our next event, the AAAA Cribbins Army Aviation Readiness Conference next month, I would like to highlight our vision for this ever evolving event begun by Joe himself along with COL Don Luce and Paul Hendrickson. They started this event in 1973 in St. Louis. Cribbins is really a mini AAAA Annual Summit six months out of phase from the April Summit itself. Although it will always feature acquisition and sustainment elements, it has now matured to include the total aviation enterprise. Led by the Army Aviation Branch Chief and other members of the six pack plus one, the Cribbins Readiness Conference will give you a broad picture of the state of the Branch with the opportunity to visit with key PMs and leaders in the previously mentioned Acquisition and Sustainment communities as well. Capping it all off on Tuesday evening, November 15, 2022 will be our first Annual AAAA Scholarship Foundation, Inc., (AAAASFI) Dinner Concert which will feature outstanding Country recording artist Michael Ray! Don’t miss this great opportunity to support the AAAASFI and have a wonderful time doing it. By the time you read this there may still be a few tickets left but no guarantees.
The December depot-focused Luther G. Jones Forum in Corpus Christi TX rounds out the calendar year on December 6-7. This forum is always a professionally rewarding and fun event that shines a light on the incredible artisans and sustainment professionals of this national asset. While there, we get the opportunity to recognize the year’s outstanding depot artisans through our AAAA awards program.
One last item I would like to mention that has emerged from my various chapter visits around the country. The chapters have raised the issue of rebooting our “Speakers Bureau” that used to exist back in the day. Specifically, the chapters would like to have a list of speakers that would be willing to attend Chapter events and address them on various subjects to include Army Aviation Hall of Famers, Industry representatives, outstanding leaders from among our Army Leadership, AAAA Boards, and the retired community. If you are interested in participating, please contact Laura Arena, our Director of Member Engagement. Laura will endeavor to get your availability out to the 79 chapters around the world to assist them in their professional program planning and development. As you may know AAAA underwrites almost $200,000 a year for our chapters to sponsor local events, and this would be a way to share past lessons learned and visions for the future with our over 18,000 members and their families.
I am still on my mission to visit all the chapters before my tenure is over next April. If I have not been to your chapter, believe me, I am headed your way.
Finally, the submission period is open for our National Awards recognizing outstanding Soldiers and units – active, Guard and Reserves. Get your submissions in by January 1st … information and forms can be found on our website at www.quad-a.org/awards.
As always, send me your thoughts on anything AAAA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you at an upcoming AAAA event soon.
MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired
35th President, AAAA
AAAA President’s Cockpit / MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired:
I hope everyone has recovered from last month’s Summit in Nashville. If you could not make it, you missed our largest and what many are declaring our best AAAA Summit ever. It may have taken us three years to get there, but the 2022 AAAA Annual Summit by all metrics was a huge success. You could just feel the energy throughout the briefings, down on the floor and at the social events. Navigating the last six months leading up to the Summit were high adventure indeed as COVID cases rose and fell and rose and fell, but at the end of the day our timing was just right.
From the ribbon cutting on Sunday, April 3, 2022, with the Chief, GEN McConville, Chief of National Guard, GEN Hokanson and the Six-Pack Plus one, to the final Soldier Appreciation Concert on Wednesday night, the event could not have gone better. Finally getting together again in real time, with real people, in a real place was a real pleasure and was enabled by YOUR AAAA team. From record attendance at 8,000, to all-time high exhibit revenue, the 2022 Summit was an outstanding event, focused on our AAAA Pillars.
That said, the 2022 Summit literally would not have happened if it was not for the strong and sustained support of our Branch Chief, MG Dave Francis and his team. The encouragement and particularly the expertise and professionalism they displayed in getting the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army’s questions answered and securing the final approval for military attendance at the Summit on March 10, 2022 was off the charts. During our semi-annual meeting, the National Executive Board (NEB) recognized Branch Command Surgeon, COL (Doctor) Nicole Powell-Dunford with a Silver Order of St Michael and a AAAA lifetime membership. Nicole is the one that shepherded us through the wickets to a low-risk health assessment by Health Command on March 4, 2022 that helped pave the way for the AASA’s decision.
Combined with our event cancellation insurance from the last two years, our Association has emerged from the pandemic at an all-time financial strength in terms of both assets and net earnings, and this 2022 Summit has only improved on that. Membership is also surging with almost 19,000 members, a recent record.
Special thanks to all our industry Corporate Members who stuck with us through two cancelled Summits, many of them simply rolling the money paid for their exhibits from year to year. Our industry partners are key members of our association; we could not be successful without them. As many of you know, AAAA has not raised its individual membership dues since 1998. Exhibit sales at the Summit each year makes this possible by offsetting the deficit in dues. Thank you industry partners!
Make sure you flip back to the full photo review of the Summit starting on page 42 to get a real feel for the event. If you were not able to join us this year, put it on the calendar for next year April 26-28, 2023. You won’t be disappointed!
As I continue my trek around to all our 79 chapters, (I have visited 36 so far), my purpose is to emphasize that chapters and their members are what we are all about. The chapters provide the most relevant personal experience to our members on a month-to-month basis. I challenge you and encourage you to gather frequently offering professional development, networking, comradery, and yes, just plain fun. What a great opportunity for leaders to mentor and embrace their aviation teams. We at AAAA National are here to help you facilitate your chapter activities.
After seeing all the Soldiers, civilians, and industry members, the technology, and the energetic spirit at the AAAA Annual Summit a few weeks ago, I have to say there is no doubt that together AAAA and the Army Aviation Branch are truly… Above the Best!
MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired
35th President, AAAA
President’s Cockpit / MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired:
Well, it is finally here, our first AAAA Annual Summit in three years. It has been some roller coaster ride through years of pandemic, shut-downs, masks, social distancing and all the rest. Let’s pray it is finally coming to a close.
I want to first thank all our 18,000-plus members and especially our 79 chapters, for all you have done and endured during these most difficult times. You and your families have inspired all of us on the National Executive Board, and me personally as I have travelled to almost half our chapters over the last year.
Special thanks also to MG Jeff Schloesser who helped steer us through two cancelled Summit’s and in fact is the only AAAA President to have never presided over our annual meeting. As Jeff noted, it would have been easier to hold the summits.
Also want to recognize our Branch Chief, MG Dave Francis; he could not have been more supportive and encouraging through all this. In fact, the entire “Six Pack” leadership has stepped up to support you, our members, going above and beyond to keep our association strong.
As we gather together April 3-5, 2022, we have yet another record year of scholarship awards, record exhibit sales and record attendance at this year’s Summit. We are also launching our new Trade-school, Licensing, and Certification Foundation to help you get you’re A&P, CDL, or whatever skill certification you need to succeed in the future. We will be presenting our normal annual awards but also some AAAA Presidential Awards from the last two years and for this year. I will be asking Jeff Schloesser to help me present the awards from his tenure.
From the chapter workshops to the closing Soldier Appreciation Concert this event is all about our total community from junior Soldier to senior leader, to retired, veterans, and members of industry. This is the biggest Army Aviation event of the year and time to pause to reflect, rekindle old friendships, make new ones, and contribute to the critical conversation to find training, materiel, and doctrine solutions to the many challenges we face around the world.
We will be working all four pillars of the AAAA Mission Statement hard during the Summit. Networking, Recognition, Voice and Support are what AAAA is all about. Make sure you participate so together we can best achieve the AAAA Mission “Supporting the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family.” If you can’t make it to the Summit, take a few minutes to go online and update your contact info and your chapter affiliation on the AAAA website.
As we come together for our first opportunity since the Cribbins Symposium back in November, let’s stay mindful of all the past sacrifices that have been made by our Army Aviation Family, and let’s look forward enthusiastically to what lies ahead for us and our AAAA professional organization.
I look forward to seeing you around the exhibit floor and the various professional program events at the Summit.
See you there.
MG Tim Crosby, U.S. Army Retired
35th President, AAAA
Ask the Flight Surgeon – By MAJ Matthew R. Cooper, DO
Let’s start with a brief synopsis of COVID-19. It is caused by a coronavirus, the same family of viruses that cause common colds. Coronaviruses cause upper respiratory infections spread by respiratory droplets (coughs, sneezes, residual mucous on hands, etc.). This is why mask wearing and hand washing are recommended to help prevent disease spread. While these prevention methods do work in reducing the spread of disease, they are not 100% effective.
This is where the vaccines come into play. Currently there are three vaccines available to use against COVID-19. The manufacturers are Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. The first two are mRNA vaccines, meaning that the vaccine carries messenger RNA (a blueprint for making protein on the surface of the COVID virus) which allows our body to generate an immune response to these surface proteins to achieve immunity. Johnson and Johnson is a viral vectored vaccine, meaning that it uses a different virus than COVID-19, but the virus has been engineered to express the surface proteins of COVID-19. These surface proteins are again what cause an immune response in our body and generates immunity to COVID-19.
Facts Versus Myths
The vaccines alter our DNA – Not true. mRNA vaccines have no way of incorporating the viral mRNA into our DNA. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver blueprints to our cells to start building immunity via surface proteins against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.
The vaccines have caused people to be magnetic – Not true. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.
The vaccines have anti-freeze in them –Not true. The vaccines have polyethylene glycol which is a derivative of ethylene glycol (antifreeze component). Polyethylene glycol is the polymerized form of ethylene glycol, which is non-toxic, odorless, colorless, and inert. In fact, polyethylene glycol is so gentle we use it as a laxative in the medical world – even in small children.
Many adverse side effects have been reported in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) – True, however, adverse events and issues are reported using this system without verification. It is important to know that reports are not fact checked in a scientific manner and definitely doesn’t prove a causation between a reported event and the alleged vaccine use. As a medical provider, the system only informs us that we may need to look into the adverse reported events. Throughout this pandemic these adverse reports have been checked and most have been refuted.
The vaccines can cause myocarditis – True, however, the risk of not having the vaccine poses a greater risk to your health. While the vaccines have shown some cardiomyopathy instances, they are mostly all mild to moderate in nature and seen in 16-24 year old males. These males have a great recovery rate and many had no symptoms of the cardiomyopathy. The fact remains that the risk and the severity of cardiomyopathy from COVID infection is much higher than the vaccine. With the vaccine the risk of myocarditis was about 2.13 per 100,000 patients whereas the risk of myocarditis with infection is about 150 per 100,000 patients.
If you have had COVID you don’t need to be immunized – Not true. People who have had COVID can be re-infected, similar to the common cold or flu. We do not know how long natural immunity lasts to this virus. But we do know that adding the vaccine increases immunity and helps prevent illness contraction or at the minimum, prevents severity of illness.
There were 2 ICU admissions and a death related to COVID vaccines in the DOD – Not true. There have been no substantiated deaths due to immunization in our active duty, dependents, or department of Army civilians, however, there have been multiple COVID deaths in non-immunized DoD personnel and contractors.
There have been mishaps related to the vaccines – Not true. The U.S. Army Safety Center assessed all U.S. Army Aviation mishaps in the safety reporting database and determined there were no immunization related air or ground mishaps. The DoD has considered the health of the force and its impact on our national defense and the DoD’s strategic mission and only mandated the vaccine once one or more of the vaccines obtained a full FDA approval.
In summary, from all the evidence we have thus far, the vaccine is safe and offers protection for the individual and those around them. Even with Omicron variant we are seeing that while we can’t prevent 100% of infections with vaccines, they are still highly effective in the prevention of hospitalization and death if the disease is contracted. More than 6,858,358 doses have been safely given by the DoD to date.
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Question for the Flight Surgeon?
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The views and opinions offered are those of the author and researchers and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position unless otherwise stated
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MAJ Matthew Cooper D.O. is a flight surgeon at the U.S. Army School of Aviation Medicine, Fort Rucker, AL.
By MG David J. Francis
I would like to start by thanking MG(R) Crosby, Bill Harris, Janis Arena, and the entire AAAA team for the extraordinary effort put into setting the conditions to allow this year’s Mission Solutions Summit to take place. It is long overdue that we bring the Army Aviation community and industry together to forge the future.
CSM Wilson, CW5 Lewis and I are extremely proud of Army Aviation’s incredible performance over this difficult year. As the Army Aviation Community, you served our Nation exceptionally well and we thank you for your continued service as we build toward Army of 2030.
Meeting tomorrow’s challenges will require the entire Aviation Enterprise to transform our training and doctrine to prepare our forces to receive and integrate Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft. Army Aviation units are 76% globally committed across all components (COMPOS). This commitment includes rotational deployments, equipment fielding and modernization, DSCA requirements, response to national disasters and other homeland requirements. Our Aviation teams tackled another record fire season, the most active hurricane season in a generation, and continue to train and deploy through a global pandemic that challenges every aspect of our military and society. Aviation leadership across all COMPOS continue to execute a very demanding mission set with over 11,500 Soldiers deployed across more than 23 countries providing support to ground forces, partners, and agencies daily. Through all of these requirements you continue to focus on our sacred trust with ground force commanders (GFC) and keep Army Aviation the most lethal, agile, and responsive maneuver asset in the Army.
As we continue our transition from counterinsurgency (COIN) operations to large scale combat operations (LSCO), we are continuously updating our existing doctrine in concert with the Army’s foundational field manuals and publications. FM 3.0 is under final review and our team is already updating and preparing FM 3.04 to implement those changes. In order to support the GFC and dominate in LSCO our formations must know and understand our doctrine and how we fight. We are constantly developing concepts of how we will fight and are quickly turning those concepts into doctrine. The integration of air and ground reconnaissance forces is critical during LSCO and we are working with the Maneuver Center to ensure Aviation is nested and incorporated into the update to FM 3.98, Cavalry Operations. The Aviation SOP leveled the bubbles across the enterprise ensuring training, maintaining, and operations were executed to standard. The SOPs are under review to ensure new capabilities like the Spike Non-line of Sight (NLOS) missile and Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (FTUAS) are onboarded and incorporated into our units.
The Aviation Enterprise is continuing our efforts to synchronize our organizations to meet the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (ReARMM) and build the structure required for our Army 2030. With the Division as the Unit of Action, we will tailor our combat aviation brigades (CABs) to their unique division requirements to provide the commander with maximum flexibility and lethality. This new organization will enable our forces to rapidly converge effects at the time and place of our choosing and provide the division commander with multiple maneuver options. An essential element of this new structure is ensuring we set the conditions for the fielding and training of our new Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms. Whether this takes form as a Unit Fielding and Training Program (UFTP) type of organization or something else is still being determined to ensure a seamless transition between our enduring and future aircraft.
Current events across the globe reinforce the need to train and prepare for LSCO so we are ready to fight today while building for Army 2030. Leveraging training support packages to build proficiency and capability in terrain flight, hoist, 2800/2900 series tasks remains an important component of the transition to LSCO. Another fundamental change to how we train is further implementation of our new Unit Trainer and Evaluator (UT/E) program. Developing unit trainers that are capable of safely training and evaluating base tasks for our new aviators allows our instructor pilots the ability to get out of the traffic pattern and tactically train our formations. Several CABs received initial training and support from the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization (DES) to stand up their UT/E programs, now we need to continue the momentum and incorporate these trainers into our current operations. The new Emergency Response Methodology (ERM) is the standard across the enterprise and is directly impacting and saving the lives of our crews.
Army Aviation’s Future Vertical Lift aircraft will bring transformational capability to maneuver and is a vital component of how our Divisions will fight in the future. FVL aircraft are bringing increased speed, reach, lethality, and survivability to the battlefield. At the same time, we cannot forget about our enduring fleet and the targeted modernization that ensures it is ready to fight tonight. The Army of 2030 will incorporate the capabilities of our enduring and future fleets and our modernization efforts synchronize both of these forces.
The Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) and continued fieldings of UH-60Vs, AH-64Ev6s, and CH-47F Block IIs keep our enduring fleet LSCO capable and ready. Our partners at the FVL Cross Functional Team (CFT), Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), the Aviation Enterprise, and industry team are continuing their phenomenal work to research and develop the near and far-term capabilities necessary in LSCO.
The Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) are going to significantly change the battlefield geometry and provide multiple dilemmas to our adversaries. The FARA ecosystem of Air-Launched Effects (ALE) and Long Range Precision Munitions (LRPM) are game changers and will enable the commander to detect, identify, disrupt, and destroy adversary Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) networks allowing our maneuver elements to penetrate to the next echelon of enemy forces. The integration of the Spike NLOS missile will greatly increase our stand-off for our attack formations, significantly improving our survivability. The development of a Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) will reduce time, costs, and requirements to upgrade our systems, ensuring our aircraft remain ready.
FLRAA, paired with enduring platforms, will exploit these maneuver opportunities delivering maneuver forces to destroy tactical command and control, sustainment, and fires elements. The increase in performance that FARA and FLRAA provide the Army Force of 2030 is essential to our ability to fight and win in LSCO. FVL, coupled with our enduring fleet, is survivable, lethal, and affordable.
Leader development is the most important thing we do across the Aviation Enterprise. We are taking giant strides to update and modernize the way we train our leaders, providing them with a more detailed study of doctrine and tactics to better prepare our force for LSCO. Over the past 12 months we holistically redesigned our Warrant Officer Professional Military Education (PME), placing added emphasis on ensuring our aviators remain the tactical and technical experts we need them to be. We revamped the nine-week Aviation Warrant Officer Advanced Course (AWOAC) in favor of a 4-week Advanced Warfighter Skills course similar in scope to the Air Cavalry Leader Course. This course focuses on the tactical planning and employment of aircraft at the platoon and company level. We are also adding a new Warrant Officer ILE Follow-On course for our senior Warrant Officers to prepare them for battalion and brigade positions. This PME restructure also applies to our Instructor Pilots (IPs). The new UT/E program enables our IPs to serve as the primary tactical trainers in our formations by off-loading basic Aircrew Training Program (ATP) tasks and allowing the IPs to get out of the traffic pattern. The future Aviation Tactics Instructor Course (ATIC) will focus on training our IPs to lead the employment of our aircraft as weapon systems on the battlefield.
Branch Officer PME is undergoing updates with our Aviation Captain’s Career Course (AVC3) revision to make sure the instruction is more LSCO-centric while moving away from COIN doctrine and scenarios. Our CPTs will have the opportunity to engage with peers from other branches using a common scenario shared across Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). We are also transitioning to organic battalion fights instead of the multi-function task force structures used in prior courses. The focus on doctrine and planning will greatly increase our future company commanders and battalion/brigade staff officers’ ability to lead in LSCO.
Our Branch recently completed a holistic review of all noncommissioned officer (NCO) professional education courses to assess what is being taught to our junior and mid-level NCOs. All courses are undergoing significant revisions to shift focus from leading during COIN operations to leading in LSCO. The most consequential change to our NCO development is the redesign of the Advanced Leaders Course (ALC). NCOs graduating ALC today are trained in the areas of maintenance management, quality control, and technical inspections. Additionally, they graduate with a greater understanding of the vital role NCOs play in ensuring their unit’s ability to successfully and safely execute their mission.
TRADOC’s number one priority for 2022 is to acquire the right people for our Army. This is a team effort that requires engaged leadership at all levels to not just recruit the right Soldiers but retain the exceptional talent that our branch needs. Over the past year Aviation Branch continued to focus on incentivizing talent across the ranks with targeted bonuses and increase in flight pay. The provisional Warrant Officer program is adding more Aviation experience at the platoon and company level for our new WO1s. Added time in the unit and the cockpit is essential to their growth and development as aviators. Additionally, we increased our throughput at flight school, while adding a 10-year active duty service obligation (ADSO). These steps will ensure we generate the right number of aviators for our Army 2030 while retaining the quality and talent we need to lead our future FVL formations.
Facilities and Policy
There is an ongoing review and assessment of our current and future facilities to ensure we are ready to meet the future requirements of our FVL aircraft. Hangars, airfields, training areas, and ranges may require adjustments to support the full capabilities of our FVL platforms. Greater speed and range along with unique FTUAS platforms will necessitate relooking our current airspace requirements and regulations. Employment of FTUAS and ALE may require unique training areas to take advantage of our systems and training scenarios. We must also look at our networks and ensure we are able to support the cutting edge technology in terms of mission planning, maintenance, and integration with other joint systems. These updates and reviews apply to the operational force and the institutional force including any potential UFTP-like unit locations.
It is an honor to serve as your branch chief and I am very aware that our endeavors would not be possible without the support of our nation, our leadership, and our incredible Families. Army Aviation is prepared and ready to meet the enemy of today while modernizing to meet tomorrow’s challenges. The last two years of Aviation operations represent the safest 2-years in Army Aviation history. This is directly related to engaged leadership, phenomenal maintainers who conduct maintenance to standard, and outstanding aviators who employ their aircraft in a professional and disciplined manner to ensure mission accomplishment. Thank you for your unmatched service and sacrifice.
Finally, please keep all the members of our Aviation Team deployed around the world in your thoughts and prayers.
Above the Best!
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MG David J. Francis is the Army Aviation branch chief and commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, AL.
AAAA Family Forum / By Jodie Francis and Janice Crosby
Over the years our Army Aviation First Ladies, Jodie Francis and Janice Crosby, have dedicated themselves to supporting our Aviation Soldiers and their Families in countless ways. I thank them for sharing their thoughts and I look forward to spending time with them and you this April in Nashville! – Judy
Hello Aviation Families! It has certainly been too long since we have been able to get together face to face, and we are extremely excited to see all of you at the 2022 Aviation Mission Solutions Summit. AAAA has gone above and beyond to make this a safe event for all of us, and we appreciate their effort! This year will be a special time as we reunite with old friends and meet new ones that have changed out over the course of the last two years. We know that “the Army goes rolling along” despite the challenges of the pandemic, and we look forward to welcoming all our new folks into the Aviation family!
I continue to be amazed at what our SFRGs continue to do to ensure our families are informed and taken care of. Our Army continues to deploy around the world, and our SFRGs have had to come up with innovative and creative ways to keep our families connected to each other. From Facebook Live and Zoom calls, to healthy outside events, our volunteers continue to overcome obstacles to take care of each other. All this while taking care of their own families that have had to stay home from school and other activities. Your resilience is truly inspiring!
This year’s Summit will be exciting in so many ways! But most importantly getting the Aviation family back together again is by far the thing I am most excited about! We have been blessed with such incredible people in this community, and it’s time for us to catch up and share the incredible stories that have kept our Aviation team going strong! Thanks to all of you for taking care of each other, and we look forward to catching up with all of you in Nashville!
Above the Best!
I sincerely hope you are all well and that you will be able to attend this year’s AAAA Summit in Nashville. It is time for our Aviation family to come together once again. As you know, this once-a-year event celebrates the accomplishments of Army Aviators and their families, and it also allows our Army and Industry teams a chance to come together and plan their efforts for the future. In addition, our great AAAA team has arranged events for the spouses during the event. Here is what we have set up for this year:
Hope you have a great time in Nashville!
Jodie Francis is the spouse of MG David J. Francis, Army Aviation Branch Chief and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Ft. Rucker, AL; and Janice Crosby is the spouse of AAAA National President, MG (Ret.) Tim Crosby.
Judy Konitzer is the family forum editor for ARMY AVIATION; questions and suggestions can be directed to her at email@example.com.
by MAJ Devon Greer, MD
Q: I was recently diagnosed with Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and have my upcoming medical examination. I’ve heard of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and its impact on flight status, but what is Central Sleep Apnea? Will it affect my flight status? How is it treated? Does flying affect it?
FS: Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) has many of the same symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) but is significantly different. CSA occurs when the brain fails to tell the diaphragm and ribs to breathe, and that causes shortness of breath while sleeping. This tends to break up sleep, causes wakening, and sleepiness during the day due to poor quality sleep. OSA is similar because breathing interruptions cause night awakenings, but the root cause is choking on a collapsed airway. In OSA, the brain is still sending signals to breathe, but the airway is blocked. CSA and OSA can occur together, called “Mixed Sleep Apnea.” Treatment of OSA with CPAP sometimes uncovers underlying CSA that was previously undiagnosed. There are a number of different types of CSA based on the root cause of the interruption in breathing, some reversible, while others are not well understood or treated. Doctors may need to test for underlying causes, such as heart disease and lung diseases. If a cause is found, it may affect your flight status until it can be adequately controlled.
Central Sleep Apnea is important in Aviation because it carries the same symptoms and risks as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. These include sleepiness during the day, reduced concentration, increased risk of errors, and development of medical issues, such as hypertension, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), and heart failure. Although CSA or OSA has not directly been responsible for accidents in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigations, the diagnoses were directly responsible for a near-miss when both pilot and copilot fell asleep and overflew their destination. Fatigue is consistently a listed concern of the National Transportation Safety Board that is responsible for mishap investigations on the ground and in the air. As such, untreated sleep disorders are considered incompatible with flight even when the exact syndrome is not specifically named in medical requirements for flight in the military or FAA.
As a further complication, high-altitude exposure can worsen CSA and associated symptoms. Since these evaluations occurred at high altitude camps, it is not clear if flying in unpressurized aircraft bears a similar risk. Short duration trips to elevated altitude do seem to cause more symptoms and worse clinical scores (such as sleep study results and concentration tests) than those who live and acclimatize at high altitude. This makes it possible that flight (particularly 15,000 ft above sea level) may develop or worsen CSA and its outcomes. Further study to evaluate how flight relates to the development, symptoms, and treatment of CSA remains necessary.
Treatment of CSA is a current area of research. Most people with CSA receive a trial of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, similar to OSA. However, the response rate and improvement of symptoms using CPAP is much lower with CSA than OSA. Other forms of positive pressure therapy that may be more effective, such as BiPAP, which can force a baseline breathing rate. Some improve on these therapies, but they can be harder to tolerate. Some trials suggest certain patients improve using simple supplemental oxygen during sleep, but this does not help every patient. Another treatment is Acetazolamide (Diamox®), usually used to help people adjust to altitude. It seems to improve breathing patterns and symptoms for many patients with CSA. Finally, treating underlying causes for CSA is vital. Heart disease, obesity, brain lesions, and other illnesses may cause CSA. Treating those illnesses may resolve CSA entirely.
What does this mean for a pilot with Central Sleep Apnea? The disease puts pilots at a higher risk of mishaps if it is not treated effectively and sleepiness persists. Flight surgeons will apply the same precepts used in treating OSA towards CSA evaluations. To ensure a pilot with CSA is safe to fly, the pilot must demonstrate that nighttime awakening and symptoms resolved with treatment. If symptoms persist despite appropriate treatment, then it’s not safe to fly. Although CSA is more challenging to diagnose and treat than OSA, it can be treated for the majority of people. Your flight surgeon is there to help you through the diagnosis, management, and treatment to ensure you’re safe to return to flight. Reach out to your flight surgeon and you can work together to keep you healthy and flying.
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Questions for the Flight Surgeon?
The views and opinions offered are those of the author and researchers and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position unless otherwise stated.
MAJ Devon Greer, MD, is a flight surgeon at the United States School of Army Aviation Medicine, Fort Rucker, AL
AAAA Family Forum / By Denise Lewis and Judy Konitzer
Our Army is the largest branch in our Armed Forces, and traditionally has the most spouses who are affected by unemployment. Many of the barriers to spouse unemployment are frequent moves, remote duty stations, deployments, Soldier availability due to scheduling, childcare, and COVID uncertainty. Among military spouses, a staggering unemployment statistic discloses unemployment (24%) and underemployment (31-51%), with these rates at a hold for years despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the US Department of Defense to address the issue and a complex network of nonprofit support.
As our military spouses transfer along with their service members, they leave their jobs and focus their attention on moving and realigning their family in the new location. The stress of the move, coupled with the loss and career interruption the spouse experiences can detract from the Soldier’s effectiveness and mission readiness, and ultimately overall retention rates. Employing the Army spouse provides an increased quality of life for our Army families and in some cases, financial stability as the family encounters obstacles in both their civilian and military life.
Military Spouse Jobs founder and President Deb Kloeppel understood the unemployment disparity for Army spouses and created a “targeted” nonprofit outreach campaign within its organization exclusively for Army spouses called Arm-Me-Up. Its honorary advisor, Mrs. Maria McConville, understands Arm-Me-Up’s clear and empowering mission, and her wisdom, advocacy and support has been a vital addition to the campaign.
Some hurdles in employment for Army spouses include:
Employment Gaps – Many employers express that if candidates have over a year gap in employment, applications could be “red flagged.” In some industries any significant gap hurts chances of employment, especially if the industry has seen changes in technology or procedures.
Skill and Education Gaps – Military spouses are one of the most educated groups of individuals, however, with current degree programs structured the way they are and the transfer from school-to-school that spouses encounter during their service member’s tour, they face three identifiable problems: 1) A college degree does not guarantee proficiency of skills sought by some companies. Applicants are judged by education, experience, and skills required by the employer. Skill sets can be taught, but many applicants are not thinking of the skills they lack when applying for a job, and many do not even understand the skills mentioned in the job description or know if they really possess these or not. 2) Education with no hands-on experience is a disadvantage when competing for a position. 3) Some applicants lack basic English and math literacy thus possibly lacking proficiency in written and oral communication. They may require assistance in these areas to be competitive with other job seekers.
License Transfer Difficulties – Transitioning to a different state often requires large fees and additional education requirements.
Access to Long-Term Yet Flexible Employment – With transferring between duty stations being a fact of military life, it can make this difficult to obtain.
The mission of Arm-Me-Up Careers Campaign is to find new opportunities and resources to empower Army spouses, whether active duty, retirees, veterans, widows, or caregivers. Job seekers will be assisted by Career Specialists with resume development, career, and industry training, and personalized one-on-one job placement support to connect you with the job you qualify for and richly deserve. Our highly qualified and trained employment expert RecruiterConnect™ Specialists are military-affiliated and credentialed in job placement services. They seek one-on one with corporate recruiters from partnering companies to expand employment opportunities for Army spouse applicants.
Since the campaign started in early 2021, Arm-Me-Up has assisted over 700 Army spouses with job placement. Military Spouse Jobs representatives will be attending the 2022 Summit in Nashville and look forward to seeing you there.
Visit www.militaryspousejobs.org, www.spousenation.org, and www.MilitarySpouseJobs.org/Army-Spouses for more information about their vast array of programs geared to improving spouse employment opportunities.
Denise M. Lewis, MSML is the outreach coordinator for Military Spouse Jobs Arm-Me-Up Career Campaign.
Branch Chief’s Corner / By MG David J. Francis:
The key component to the success of our military is the American Soldier. While modernization is an absolute imperative for our Army, it is the Soldier who is trained and ready to receive, use, and win with that new equipment that is essential. In the Aviation branch, our Soldiers fix, fly, and employ some of the most sophisticated aircraft in the world in support of the Ground Force Commander as a component of Combined Arms Maneuver. How we train, develop, and prepare our Soldiers, NCOs, Warrant Officers, and Officers is critical to provide our nation with an Army that can fight and win in Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO).
CW2 Oceana Chamberlain, 1-183rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, Idaho National Guard, practices flight maneuvers throughout Idaho’s snowy Owyhee Mountains, south of Gowen Field, on Jan. 13, 2022.
The United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) is responsible for the training and Professional Military Education (PME) of our Aviation Soldiers from E-1 to O-8. USAACE leverages world-class instructors and facilities across three major installations to ensure we are providing the Army of 2030 a capable and ready force as a part of the joint fight. Institutional training is continuing to evolve at a rapid rate to match the improvements in doctrine, tactics, equipment, and increased knowledge and skills of our new Soldiers. Our redesigned education efforts are having immediate impacts on how we fight and train with our enduring airframes while setting the conditions to receive and employ our Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms. We are creating agile, flexible, adaptive leaders of character who possess the ability to think critically and timely.
Some of the largest changes and improvements to Aviation PME are occurring with our lieutenants and captains. The LTs and CPTs of today will serve as the company commanders, S3s, XOs, and battalion commanders of the Army that is expected to fight and win in LSCO. The Aviation Basic Officer Leadership Course provides new lieutenants with basic soldiering, leadership, officer skills and combined arms tactics in addition to the challenges of attending flight school. The culminating three week Aviation Leadership Exercise (ALE) allows the LTs to work with their WO1 counterparts on aviation mission planning, briefing, and execution of an actual aviation mission in a simulated environment. Our future leaders are better prepared to become valuable teammates capable of leading and executing aviation operations during their initial assignment.
The Aviation Captain’s Career Course (AVC3) is developing future company/troop commanders and staff officers at the battalion and brigade level who can also excel in LSCO. AVC3 is providing the CPTs with a crucial understanding of new and refined doctrine to ensure they understand how to fight on today’s battlefield while developing them to lead on the battlefield of the future.
All Aviation Battalion and Brigade Commanders attend the re-structured Aviation Pre-Command Course (PCC). PCC provides our CSL commanders an update on the latest Army Aviation Doctrine and Tactics, current trends and concerns across the enterprise, direct senior leader engagement and mentorship, and culminates in deliberate LSCO mission planning. This course does a phenomenal job of preparing our commanders for current operations while teaching them to think about future missions.
The future of how we fight and win our nation’s wars is changing rapidly. We will face a highly trained and highly capable enemy that is able to contest our forces in every domain. As our equipment modernizes and becomes more agile, lethal, and survivable our tactics and leadership development must modernize to maximize the capabilities of our new and legacy aircraft. The last 20 years of conflict taught us that the American Soldier is the key to victory, and it is essential that we provide the correct education to ensure they are prepared for the future fight. Every action we are taking in Army Aviation Branch is synchronized across the DOTLMPFP (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy) but the central focus is, and has to be, our Soldiers.
Newer, more adaptive and capable aircraft and digital systems are critical to our ability to fight and win. Highly trained, disciplined, physically and mentally fit Soldiers are WHY we win.
Above the Best!
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MG David J. Francis is the Army Aviation branch chief and commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, AL.