Branch Chief’s Corner / By MG David J. Francis: Army Aviation remains an expeditionary force and a dynamic option for maneuver commanders at all echelons
We organize, man, train, and equip our organizations to deploy anywhere in the world, at any time, in any environment, against any adversary, to accomplish its assigned mission. Essential to our expeditionary nature is sustainment and support that is suitable for the mission and the environment.
SSG Odale Bell performs post-flight maintenance checks on a CH-47 during Defender Europe in Bulgaria, April 30, 2021.
Over the past 20 years, our focus was on fighting and sustaining in a counterinsurgency (COIN) environment driven by Army and combatant com- mand (COCOM) requirements. As we shift our training for Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO), we must adjust institutional and operational training to prepare our units and maintainers for the future fight. In the future we will be required to sustain combat operations at a high OPTEMPO over an extended period of time, in isolated geographic locations. Conducting dispersed maintenance operations, in lo- cations with a reduced logistical footprint, will directly impact our ability to fight and win in LSCO.
Our organizations and leaders have to prepare to move their organizations organically, repeatedly, and with all necessary support. Most importantly, we will have to sustain ourselves with the smallest footprint and logistical tail possible. For Large Scale Combat Operations we will develop a strategic depth in the supply chain to lower operational and sustainment costs throughout the life cycle, reduce Soldier burden, and increase operational availability while retaining our flexibility, agility and lethality. In the threat environment we anticipate in Large Scale Combat Operations, our deployments may be short notice employing our assets quickly over far distances. We envision designing, training, and equipping Aviation Units that will conduct combat operations upon arrival and operate for several days with relatively limited external support in harsh/ corrosive environments with longer maintenance-free operating periods.
The Army Aviation Maintenance Training Program
To meet these requirements, we are modernizing the way we train and develop our maintainers. The Army Aviation Maintenance Training Program is driving the way the Army trains and develops aviation maintainers and leaders. This program establishes a maintenance proficiency level system to complement aircrew training progression and add clarity in understanding the hierarchy of proficiency. This program enables leaders to ensure the right maintenance personnel, with the correct level of maintenance proficiency, are selected when we disperse our units for combat operations. We will better understand our capacity and arm our aviation leaders with the knowledge required to build the best maintenance capability.
Through innovative training and new maintenance techniques, our modernization effort in maintenance is designed to allow our aviation warfighters and support elements to project aviation combat power enabling faster movement and sustainment. Our maintenance leaders will have to develop common ASLs to reduce the known burden of dragging large “just in case” PLL’s across the battlefield while retaining the necessary capacity to surge for LSCO. Gone is the day of the massive FOB. Instead, we anticipate tailoring the maintenance and logistical support to meet a dynamic mission requirement. It is more important than ever that we “train how we will fight” at all levels of logistics and maintenance.
Army Aviation must be capable of rapid deployment and immediate employment throughout the globe in the future operational environment described in the MDO concept. Aviation units must be capable of operating in austere environments, amidst complex terrain, with limited or lengthy lines of communication for extended periods of time. Our Army expects a fully Integrated Army Aviation sustainment and maintenance capability that supports Joint, Multinational, Large Scale Combat Operations across all domains – space, cyber, air, sea, and land. Modern Aviation sustainment will support future force capabilities delivering resilient, and flexible sustainment for future aviation forces and the fielding of Future Vertical Lift aircraft.
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