Army Aviation

Soldiers Learning to Become Leaders

128th Aviation Brigade / By Mr. Mark S. Jones: Army Aviation is unique in that the majority of enlisted Soldiers in the branch begin as technicians and evolve into senior leaders of operational units. So where does structured leader training begin?

Company A, 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment student leadership taking accountability before beginning training./ U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY CPT ANDREW J. BLIK, CDR, A/1-210 AVN.

NCOs would tell you that this is what they do all of the time, every day and most would agree. But where is the foundation laid where a young man or woman who joins the Army and aspires to become a senior leader occur? Is it in basic combat training, the unit, or advanced individual training (AIT)?

The mission of the 128th Aviation Brigade is to generate disciplined, physically fit, technically proficient aviation maintenance Soldiers and leaders who embody the Army values, and embrace the Army as a profession, contributing to the combat readiness of the Army, its allies, and other services as a member of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) team. How the brigade leadership accomplishes that is key to mission success.

Planting the Seeds
Nowhere in our branch is it more important to inculcate the values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage (LDRSHIP) than at the very first level of involvement with Aviation NCOs. Within the brigade is where the seeds of Army values are planted for AIT Soldiers. Here at the beginning of the process is where leaders are training Soldiers to be formal and informal leaders as they learn how the Army values are so interconnected with their technical skills training. Here is where many new Soldiers are introduced, some for the first time, to a commitment of something bigger than themselves, to a life of professionalism and trust that will grow with the Soldier and stay with them for life, the courage to do what is right. Without a foundation of integrity and values, the trust and confidence of the flight crews that the maintenance is done by the book, inspected by the book, and safe would undermine mission success.

Each week a new group of Soldiers arrive at the 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment to be trained in one of the 10 AIT courses to receive their MOS as aviation maintainers. The mission of the 1-222nd Avn. is to finish the transition process from civilian to Soldier through a rigorous process of physical training, basic leadership skills utilizing a student leadership program, coaching, mentoring and counseling by platoon sergeants, all leading to a Soldier who embodies the brigade mission statement.

Throughout their training, the most professional cadre of leaders from platoon sergeant throughout the battalion, provide continual reinforcement of what right looks like. But this is not a single battalion operation. There are two training battalions, 1st & 2nd of the 210th Aviation Regiment that continue to develop the Soldiers through the conduct of all of the AIT technical training.

From the shortest course of 10 weeks to the longest course of nearly 24 weeks, NCOs qualified through an exhausting process of training, practice and certification using some of the worlds most sophisticated aviation maintenance training devices and systems, work diligently to ensure that the seriousness of the profession is imprinted into the apprentice level Soldiers. They learn the Aviation Maintainer’s Creed and the code of the professional as they move through the training process, earn their wings and then proceed to the combat aviation brigades.

These same NCO instructors know the imperative of proper and by the book techniques that must be adhered to as lives depend on it. They know that they will see these Soldiers again in their formations as the instructors return to the field and have the confidence that they will adhere to the values of LDRSHIP as they perform their daily duties.

Every NCO from platoon sergeant in the 1-222nd Avn. to the line instructor in the 1st & 2nd 210th Avn. are committed to LDRSHIP and aviation training excellence. Every leader is a Soldier and every Soldier is a leader!
Above the Best!

Mr. Mark S. Jones is the deputy to the commander of the 128th Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA.