U.S. Army Reserve Aviation /By BG Troy D. Kok: As I wind down my time here as the commanding general of the 11th Theater Aviation Command (11th TAC), located at Fort Knox, KY, I would like to share some of the key reasons for our success as the home of United States Army Reserve (USAR) Aviation. USAR Aviation is a complex enterprise whose success relies on its multiple partners that include the Department of Defense (DOD), State, Federal, and private industry. Due to the current fiscal realities, Army Aviation is undergoing a transformation. Aviation is consolidating its number of locations, therefore reducing the costs to deal with these facilities, while also modernizing and restructuring our force to provide maximum combat capabilities to the ground force. Reserve Aviation is actively participating in this process through aircraft conversions and posturing for future structure changes. All partners in the Aviation Enterprise are essential to the ultimate success and execution of this process. The desired end state is a modernized and ready “Operational Reserve” aviation force, a part of the Total Army and Joint Force, capable of providing support to overseas contingencies while also providing life-saving and life-sustaining capabilities to the homeland. This end state aligns with the Army Operating Concept; the Army’s Force 2025 and Beyond (F2025B), and the Chief of the Army Reserve’s (CAR) approach to posture the Army Reserve for the future.
Company A, 2-238th Avn. Regt., 11th TAC, conduct water bucket training from a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter in Hemet, CA, Feb. 10, 2015. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY SPC HEATHER DOPPKE
The U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) is located at Ft. Bragg, NC and is commanded by LTG Jeffery Talley. As a major subordinate command (MSC) to USARC, the 11th TAC is the operational command in charge of all USAR Aviation forces, and as such is the USAR Aviation center of gravity. The 11th consists of a force of over 4,200 personnel spread across 14 states.
Our current structure consists of one theater aviation command, one theater aviation brigade, and 8 battalions. The following highlights some of the partners and relationships that ensure the readiness of the 11th TAC. This list, while extensive, is not all inclusive as there are too many relationships to name each one explicitly.
The USARC Aviation Directorate provides a tremendous amount of support to the 11th TAC. The Aviation Directorate is a staff office assigned to the USARC G3/5/7, and it serves as the USARC staff subject matter experts for all things aviation. The O6-level director is the senior USAR Aviation representative within the headquarters and assists the command with understanding complex aviation issues. The directorate serves as the liaison between the 11th TAC and USARC, ensuring that USARC understands its own aviation capabilities and that the 11th TAC understands the USARC Commander’s intent.
When the 11th TAC needs support from the USARC staff, the directorate ensures that the support requests are heard by the proper authority and follows up to ensure completion. The planning and coordination that the Aviation Directorate conducts with the USARC staff are functions critical to the 11th TAC’s success. Some of the assistance that they provide includes working with the USARC G-1 in the scheduling of Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) for new accessions and the G37’s scheduling of collective training events to ensure unit readiness. They work hand in hand with the USARC G8 and G38 to provide funding and resourcing to synchronize the ARFORGEN process with the G35, and also coordinate deployments of Aviation units and individuals with the G3 Mobilization team. The USARC G6 ensures aviation specific software and technologies are approved and functional on the USAR network.
The U.S. Army Jet Training Detachment falls under the control of the Aviation Director. In 2007, the Department of the Army assigned the UC-35 training mission and proponency to the U.S. Army Reserve. Based upon that directive, the USAR established the U.S. Army Jet Training Detachment (USAJTD) at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, the only USAR Aviation training institution.
The organization consists of field grade leadership and standardization instructor pilots (SP) from both the USAR and the Active Component. These SPs are responsible for conducting over 28 initial and 18 instructor pilot qualifications every year. Additionally, they interface with both Project Manager, Fixed Wing and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) for proponency-related duties and coordinates directly with the contract training providers for modifications to the program of instruction (POI).
Every year, the USAJTD hosts the UC-35 Users Forum where representatives from UC-35 units, USAACE Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization (DES), TRADOC Capabilities Manager-Lift, PM Fixed Wing, our industry partners, and training providers gather to discuss the latest issues regarding standardization, maintenance, training, and operation of the UC-35 fleet. This collaboration enables the success of the UC-35 program across the Army.
1-214th Avn. Regt., 11th Theater Aviation Command located at Joint Base Lewis McChord provides CH-47 support inserting a National Park Service ground team on Mount Rainier during a search and rescue mission.
The 11th TAC maintains an enduring relationship with the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), as FORSCOM is the higher headquarters to USARC. FORSCOM’s mission is to provide a sustained flow of trained and ready ground forces to the Combatant Commanders in defense of the Nation, at home and abroad; and is reliant upon units’ and Army Components’ readiness. This responsiveness is cultivated through our continued training, proper resourcing, and good working relationships between the organizations.
The USARC Aviation Directorate interacts with FORSCOM on a daily basis to ensure that 11th TAC units are postured to support all types of deployment requirements. The 11th TAC is currently supporting maintenance and support operations in Kuwait, Defense Support to Civil Authority (DSCA) Operations for the Homeland, medium lift and MEDEVAC support in Kosovo, fixed wing support in the Sinai and Kuwait, aviators and sensor operators for U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), future commitments for AH-64, CH-47 and MEDEVAC capabilities, as well as individuals deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
As the home of Army Aviation, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence is integral to the success of the 11th TAC. The most visible sign of interaction between USAACE and USAR Aviation are the 60+ students that the 11th sends to IERW each fiscal year. However, we encounter unique challenges due to the complexities of the Reserve Soldier. For this reason, my role as CG of the 11th includes the responsibility as the Deputy Commander Army Reserve at Fort Rucker. In that position, my primary role is to assist the CG, USAACE with Army Reserve matters and ensure that Army Reserve Soldiers have the support needed to succeed while attending their training.
The USAR also has a colonel and a non-commissioned officer (NCO) liaison officer (LNO), positions that work directly with the USAACE G3 section to ensure USAR Soldiers are managed and tracked properly for all USAACE courses. Finally, the USAR has several other Reserve Soldiers in key positions at USAACE to ensure that the USAR is integrated into all aspects of Army Aviation. This cooperation between the USAR and USAACE ensures that USAR Aviation continues to support the CAR’s vision of being a “life-saving, life-sustaining citizen Soldier force for the nation.”
11th TAC’s Bravo Co., 1-214th GSAB (General Support Aviation Battalion) conducts high altitude rescue training on Mount Rainier in Washington State with the National Park service in late May, 2014. Army Reserve aviation pilots and crew train with the dedicated rangers from the National Park service every year to conduct high altitude rescues between 10,000 and 14,500 feet.
The Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) and Reserve Aviation partner at many levels with multiple staffs to include G3/5/7, G4, and the Department of Military Operations Aviation (DAMO-AV), Force Management (FM) and Training (TR). Program Executive Office of Aviation (PEO AVN) and multiple Program Managers (PMs) also provide indispensable support to the enterprise.
State and Federal Partners
Relationships with State and Federal partners have enabled the 11th TAC to provide DSCA, Search and Rescue (SAR) support, firefighting capabilities, and drug interdiction nationwide. The 11th has allocated forces to the DSCA mission continuously since 2011. The 11th TAC began providing SAR support on Mount Rainier for lost hikers and climbers in 1984, and officially assumed the mission as the primary SAR response asset in 1998.
Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Company B, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment has been called upon multiple times each year to conduct mountain search and rescue missions and to insert National Park Service teams onto Mount Rainer.
Company A, 2nd Bn., 238th Avn. Regt. located in Los Alamitos, CA recently completed ground and fire bucket training with California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE), providing an additional layer of support in fighting California wildfires in Southern California.
The 339th Military Intelligence (MI) Company, partnered with Joint Task Force-North (JTF-N) and the U.S. Border Patrol to provide C-12 planes that provided overwatch support to Border Patrol agents on the ground along the U.S.-Mexico border. This assistance resulted in the seizure of 12,650 pounds of marijuana and $650,000; and the capture of 825 undocumented aliens. This partnership helped to reduce the flow of illegal drugs and personnel into the United States.
I am confident that I’m leaving this strategic and complex organization in capable hands. While this list only mentions some of the major partners with whom we work, these relationships enable USAR Aviation’s ability to provide assets in support of operations on a global scale.
Without these partners, our missions would be tremendously difficult, if not impossible. These relationships ensure that U.S. Army Reserve Aviation will continue to be part of an “Operational Reserve” that is relevant and available to support the Army as a “life-saving, life-sustaining Citizen Soldier force for the Nation.”
BG Troy D. Kok has been the commanding general of the 11th Theater Aviation Command located at Fort Knox, KY from November 2012 to May 2015.