Reserve / By BG Scott R. Morcomb: Army reserve aviation has successfully executed tens of thousands of missions over our 50-plus year history, but never has there been a more proficient and lethal federal reserve aviation force for the nation.
BG Scott Morcomb (center, standing), commanding general of the Army Reserve Aviation Command, observes a mission brief during XCTC 17-01 at Fort A.P. Hill over the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May 2017. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY CPT MATTHEW ROMAN, U.S. ARAC
This nearly impossible track record is not due to some consistent stroke of luck or any amount of good fortune, it is instead because of the Warrior-Citizens that have dedicated their careers to fly, maintain and refuel our fleet of over 200 aircraft. Although Army reserve aviation doesn’t train at the rate of our active duty counterparts, we do benefit from relative longevity in assignments. Repetitious training, with an emphasis on efficiency creates aviators and teams that exude confidence and professionalism. Recently the Army Reserve Aviation Command (ARAC) has emphasized more complex training, including: Exportable Combined Training Center (XCTC) 17-01 rotation, Warrior Exercise (WAREX) 78-17-01 and a brigade level Command Post Exercise (CPX). The remainder of FY17 will also see ARAC assets participating in a multinational exercise in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) area of operations (AO).
WAREX 78-17-01 is a division level collective training event that is designed to assess a specific unit’s combat capabilities. These capabilities range from direct action infantry operations to the logistics and support tasks. The ARAC played a significant role in this WAREX by providing battalion-level air assault capabilities to the Soldiers on the ground, who in this case happened to be members of the storied Easy Company, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). 8-229th Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB) crews were able to push through frigid temperatures, various weather delays (due to a “nor’easter” passing through the Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst AO) and successfully execute several iterations of mock troop insertion missions with Easy Company.
XCTC 17-01 was another multi-component training event that allowed 5-159th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) to exercise full scale battalion air movement and support operations. With a task force consisting of over 300 Soldiers and 15 aircraft, from both the ARAC and 101st Airborne Division, XCTC 17-01 allowed this battalion to fly nearly 300 hours while being evaluated on air-ground operations (AGO) battalion tasks. Over a 17-day period, support personnel utilized and maintained 50 vehicles, pumped nearly 31,000 gallons of fuel and served over 3500 meals to their Soldiers. Logistically, support elements of this battalion also executed support operations that are rarely replicated outside of this type of training event.
Saber Guardian 2017 (SG17), the next major training exercise the ARAC is executing within this fiscal year, will require the movement of aircraft and personnel across the Atlantic to the Black Sea region. With 2-228th Theater Aviation Battalion at the helm of our effort, the ARAC has dedicated multiple C-12 platoons to provide personnel and equipment movement in and around the SG17 AO. As part of the USEUCOM Joint Exercise Program, SG17 is a multinational exercise that helps reinforce deterrence measures agreed to by NATO at the Warsaw Summit in 2016. Further, it assures our allies and partners of the enduring U.S. commitment to the defense of the Black Sea region.
Our aircrew members continue to dedicate countless hours of time to ensure our command is ready to support mission requirements anywhere on the globe. Often this military duty is performed in between civilian jobs and non-military commitments that our Warrior-Citizens have. As our nation continues to build and prepare for a conflict that could potentially be on par with conflicts experienced by previous generations of American warriors, the ARAC relies on a foundation of rigorous, realistic, and repetitious training to keep us ready to launch our aircraft wherever and whenever needed.
BG Scott R. Morcomb is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Aviation Command located at Fort Knox, KY.