ARSOAC CSM Update / By CSM Billy D. Webb: The accomplishment of every Army Aviation mission is grounded in the strict adherence to a standard, carried out by disciplined and responsible Soldiers and leaders.
Through training and leadership, we deploy tight knit, cohesive teams that are highly capable, adaptable, agile, and effective that follow the standard. Army doctrine, Army regulations, unit regulations, programs of instruction, and unit standard operating procedures provide an understanding of the standard. It requires strong leadership to foster an environment where strict enforcement can be maintained and understood at all levels.
A crew chief from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) conducts pre-flight inspections on a MH-47G Chinook helicopter. / PHOTO COURTESY OF ARSOAC PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Regardless of the framework used, whether it’s time-on-target plus or minus thirty seconds, the Army Special Operations Promise, or the imperatives contained within ARSOA 2028, maintaining a high level of proficiency requires more than strategy – it requires an organizational culture committed to doing what is “right” right the first time – STANDARDS. The end state results in a winning team ready to fight tonight and prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.
In the special operations community, we have created a culture of standards by investing in human capital. One of the SOF Truths, “People are more important than hardware,” is our most important imperative, and it is constant in everything we do at the Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC). Quality is more important than quantity, the success of any organization is dependent on training and developing Soldiers that possess the following characteristics: high degree of individual character; unwavering professionalism; adaptable, agile, mission-focused problem solver; team player; perseverance; operational aptitude; and exceptional leadership, judgment, and maturity.
Leaders within the ARSOAC understand that investing in Soldiers leads to mission success and readiness. We provide structured MOS progression, career professional development, talent management and tough demanding training that challenges our Force and our troop training procedures that drives bottom up innovation that evolves our capabilities which leads to success on the battlefield.
The Making of a SOF Aviation Soldier
One of the things that makes ARSOAC unique, is that every Soldier must reaffirm his or her ability to achieve the Army standard prior to being assigned to the organization. All members of ARSOAC are trained and tested in Combat Skills, formally known as “Green Platoon,” as part of their accession into the command. There are no “special” standards during Green Platoon training, simply a strict adherence to the Army standard. We aren’t trying to exceed the Army standard, but we are trying to be the best at the Army standard. In this context ARSOAC Soldiers can instantly deploy as part of a highly effective team capable of winning in volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and continually evolving environments.
Beyond Combat Skills
ARSOAC has dedicated training elements within the command, enabling us to maintain 32 in-house, dedicated Army approved Programs of Instructions (POI) that produce ARSOAC Basic Mission Qualified pilots, enlisted Non-Rated Crewmembers, Flight Instructors, UAS Operators, enlisted flight medics, enlisted aircraft maintainers and several other programs that enhance the capabilities of the organization. We invest in numerous low-density programs to professionally grow technically and tactically proficient Soldiers within their career fields. Our young Soldiers are subject to structured MOS progression programs that develop them within their specialty and as a valuable team member. The phrase “Never measure your importance by your proximity to the target” is never been truer and it’s these Soldiers that make it happen every day.
The need for competent leaders who are empowered to make critical decisions at their level cannot be overstated when performing combat operations. Understanding that we need competent leaders is one thing; how we fill that need is a separate effort altogether. The Professional Ethic and the three pillars of Commitment, Competence and Character require that Soldiers are committed, competent at their job and that they possess values, ethics and morals which lead them to be successful. Early in an enlisted Soldier’s assignment to the command, junior Soldiers are given a tremendous amount of responsibility to grow professionally as an individual, as a competent team member, and as subject matter expert within their field. Development models and leaders ensure the time and resources are structured to meet this important requirement. Professional Military Education, broadening opportunities, NCOIC duties of small teams and leadership assignments within the command provide the basis for the solid progression to a professional Soldier. Additionally, the command runs a comprehensive Talent Management program in conjunction with USASOC for all its senior NCOs. This process ensures that we are utilizing the “Talent” correctly across the command and the Army.
Mission Focused Training Model
Another SOF truth is “Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced.” This means that we will go to war with the Soldiers we have today and that makes training (Readiness) a priority within the command. In the next fight there will not be time to ramp up training and therefore we must be ready to meet our adversary with the most lethal force and equipment we have. Training is the cornerstone within our enterprise, with challenging and realistic training being the capstone to setting and maintaining high standards. This approach helped us transition from owning the night to owning the spectrum as we prepare for Multi Domain Operations (MDO). There are two unique characteristics that ARSOAC has when it comes to training. Its habitual relationship with our customers and how we regionally align the operational units allowing our units to capitalize on valuable training exercises around the world as well with the SOF forces assigned within that AOR. These training events not only provide valuable training venues, but they also educate Soldiers about the various AORs and the countries they work in.
The habitual relationship that ARSOAC has with its customer base is invaluable. When a unit has the ability to work with the supported customer throughout its combat development lifecycle, the training and the standards gleaned serve as combat multipliers that make both the customer and the ARSOA capability stronger. Although combat provides an excellent venue for refining the smallest details, the constant engagement during training in numerous environments and mission profiles serves as the placeholder for exacting standards.
Training and Soldier development programs within the ARSOAC help support the three main imperatives that we have outlined in our future operating concept, ARSOA 2028. In this document we’ve challenged ourselves to assess the current force, develop the future force, and generate the future force. Being part of a special culture that breeds success requires a significant investment into our training programs and human capital. This investment produces highly competent, committed Soldiers that can be trusted to carry out tough missions around the world. It’s these programs that foster an environment or culture of committed excellence towards mission accomplishment and teamwork. The “Love of the Job” is at the heart of every ARSOAC Soldier. So, we will continue to build a commitment to standards with a cohesive professional force focused on successful accomplishment of the mission and will remain postured and ready to execute precise, lethal, and complex mission profiles anytime, anywhere, time on target +/- 30 seconds. ARSOAC will continue to enforce strict military standards and build adaptive and innovative leaders that are creative problem solvers that answer the Nation’s objectives in a volatile and uncertain global environment.
CSM Billy D. Webb is the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command headquartered at Fort Bragg, NC.