President’s Cockpit / By MG Jeff Schloesser, U.S. Army Retired: Our focus for June is Army Special Operations Aviation – ARSOA. From the outside looking in, ARSOA may seem to be much, much different than conventional Army Aviation. Those of us who have served in both know that ARSOA and conventional Army Aviation are in fact complementary.
A Soldier with the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, conducts routine maintenance on an AH-64 Apache helicopter on May 6, 2020, at Fort Riley, KS. Soldiers with the CAB continue to support mission-readiness while simultaneously preventing the spread of COVID-19./ U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY PFC JARED SIMMONS
There would be no ARSOA without the volunteers that come from our combat aviation brigades (CABs) or that base line conventional aircraft that are modified for special operations. For conventional Army Aviation, many of the incredible capabilities we employ today come from the training, development, and creativity of our Army special operations aviators, maintainers, and capability developers. We complement and NEED each other.
Our Branch Chief, MG Dave Francis leads off the discussion by noting the OPTEMPO challenge that Army Aviation is experiencing – both ARSOA and our CABs. In my view, I doubt the OPTEMPO will lessen in the near future on either formation. So, MG Francis’ next point is critical – people really, REALLY, matter. He notes how important recruiting from our conventional units is for special operations aviation and gives a clear message of continued support for that recruiting. From my personal perspective, the big Army gains back after making such an investment. Our conventional ranks are filled with former Night Stalkers from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), at the NCO, warrant officer, and field grade levels. Those highly trained and experienced leaders make us better.
Next up is the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s (USASOC) command team. LTG Fran Beaudette and CSM Marc Eckard give us an inside peek into the 160th SOAR, from the start of a volunteer’s training at Green Platoon to the future of the special operations aviation platforms, while discussing the components that make this well-honed formation really excel. Finally, they give a shoutout to the industry partnership that USASOC and ARSOA engender.
BG Al Pepin, U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command’s (USASOAC) Commanding General gives us insight into the training of the 160th team member, as well as the Progressive Readiness Model that enables the special operations aviation team to maintain a stunning deployment schedule while supporting training events around the globe, all the while seeking new and better means and methods to fight and fly.
There are several other interesting articles from our ARSOA teammates, and I think you will find them highly relevant, no matter if you are in a CAB, in our school house, or are already a Night Stalker.
June 6 marked yet another birthday – on 6 June 1942 Army Aviation was born. We have come a long way from the days of light aircraft organic to Field Artillery outfits, but we acknowledge and honor our very own “Cub Club” and those that came before us.
I want to pay homage of a different type as well. Just a few days ago, Corpus Christi Army Depot held a change of command: we want to say congrats and best wishes to outgoing commander COL Gail Atkins. Gail was a superb leader and all of us at AAAA much enjoyed working for and with her on the Luther Jones symposiums each year. In her place comes COL Joseph Parker. We look forward to working with you J!
As a reminder, we are still planning on this year’s Luther Jones Army Aviation Depot Symposium August 25-26. Pending any “second wave” or future travel restrictions, we hope to see you there!
Also, you need to dust off last year’s August/September “Blue Book” issue of AAAA magazine and send us at AAAA your changes for this year’s issue – suspense is 22 July.
As I noted last month, 2020 is off to a challenging start for our members and their families. I am proud of what our Army has done and is doing to support America and our citizens. I remain very confident all of us also can rise to the challenge. Stay healthy! As always, I pledge to ensure that AAAA does its part to help YOU: our Soldiers, families, and senior leaders!
MG Jeff Schloesser, U.S. Army Retired
34th President, AAAA