Army Aviation

Providing Strategy Value in a Complex World

ARSOAC Commander Update / By BG John R. Evans Jr.: Among those executing operations across the Global Combatant Commands (GCCs) tonight will be the men and women of Army Special Operation Aviation (ARSOA).

1SFG and Malaysian partner forces prepare to load up a combat rubber raiding craft in an MH-47G during amphibious assault training near Penang, Malaysia, March 10, 2017. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY CPT ADAM SWARTZBAUGH

A member of the total Army Aviation Team, ARSOA units over the past 15 years have become widely known for their enduring commitments on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Inextricably linked to the Army, Army Aviation and Special Operations Forces (SOF), ARSOA seeks to provide strategic value in a complex world.

While ARSOA forces don’t deploy as brigade or battalion sets, their ability to be scalable and tailorable to meet any mission is critical in the current and future operating environment. The operational infrastructure of the mid-2000s capitalized on multiple forward operating bases across the regional geography offering the advantages of force protection, Class III & V resupply, maintenance depth and basic life support. The future battlefields will offer infrastructure that is lean, compressed, reduced or non-existent. ARSOA forces must deploy with greater sustainment, more enablers and increasingly rely on partner nation support in future conflict.

As ARSOA forces continue to press the fight against our nation’s adversaries in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, they are evolving tactics, techniques and procedures to answer the demands of the future operating environment. Following the Army and Department of Defense, ARSOA forces are looking increasingly at those nation states with the means to threaten our national interests and destabilize regional partnerships. The Department of Defense has identified four major nation states as possible future adversaries while maintaining a focus on trans-regional terrorist organizations in the current conflict. This “four plus one” (4+1) approach includes a focus on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea in addition to long standing counter terrorism operations.

ARSOA maintains an important role in advancing technologies, promoting new capability and refining our ability to synchronize effects across all domains. Nested with the Army Operating Concept, emerging Army Multi-Domain battle doctrine and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) 2035 Capstone documents, ARSOA is providing aviation support across the joint force through the use of the four U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) strategic value propositions: 1) the indigenous approach, 2) precision targeting, 3) developing understanding and wielding influence, and 4) crisis response. While Army Aviation can and does provide some of the same elements of support to the ground force that ARSOA provides, the ability for ARSOA to conduct operations within these four propositions lanes is unique.

The indigenous approach is the cornerstone of Army Special Operations thought and process. It focuses the power of specially recruited, assessed, selected, trained and equipped Soldiers on promoting resiliency and expertise with partner forces to achieve better security assurance around the world. Historically this role fell exclusively to Special Forces ground units, but ARSOA now employs the indigenous approach with aviation formations through the conduct of Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) missions. Using the Special Operations Aviation Advisory Detachment (SOAAD), ARSOA advisors deploy across the GCCs to hone the skills of near peer partners and develop sustainable training and maintenance processes for nations with nascent rotary wing capability. The demand for AvFID missions is high across the world and ARSOA is working to increase capacity in this mission space.

Precision targeting has long been a strength of ARSOA forces. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) was conceived and designed for this singular purpose – provide aviation assault and precision fires for direct action raids. Over the course of the last decade, however, ARSOA has expanded this role. We still provide world class aviation assault/fires for special operations ground forces from rotary wing platforms, and now have unmanned aircraft systems like the MQ-1C Gray Eagle in our inventory of capability. ARSOA also works closely with those enablers that conduct target development activities to ensure decisive results with lethal effects.

The dispersed nature of ARSOA forces across the world in supporting named operations, Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) and other theater exercises enables us to contribute to propositions three and four. Our presence in theater allows us to rapidly develop understanding with other special operations forces and provide a modicum of influence among those forces with which we are partnered. Our level of readiness and near constant presence ensures we can respond to a crisis should it arise. While other components within the joint force remain ready across the GCCs, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) and ARSOA forces deploy ready to conduct any mission.

Our world is increasingly complex. As strategic power dynamics shift we must be prepared to win on all battlefields. As part of the Army Aviation and Joint forces, ARSOA stands ready to provide strategic value to these efforts. We are committed to leading technology initiatives, evolving our tactics and preparing for a future in the multi-domain warfare environment. Ever grounded in our Army Aviation roots, we seek to provide special capability across the spectrum to accomplish any mission. We take seriously our role to support special operations forces across the joint and coalition teams, and we remain humbled to be able to fly the best!

Volare Optimos!

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1SFG and Malaysian partner forces prepare to load up a combat rubber raiding craft in an MH-47G during amphibious assault training near Penang, Malaysia, March 10, 2017. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY CPT ADAM SWARTZBAUGH