By CSM Brian N. Hauke: I hope this finds everyone having had a phenomenal summer with some well-deserved time off. If you were able to get away and work on that balance I discussed a couple issues ago, congratulations. If not, please take some time for yourself over the rapidly approaching holidays.
Retroactive Award of Army Aviation Badge Update
First, I wanted to thank SGM (Ret.) James Minor who served over 29 years in Army Aviation across four different MOSs 93H, 93J, 93C, and 93P with multiple combat tours for initially contacting both AAAA and the Branch asking for clarification on the awarding of the Aviation Badge. Likewise, I also wanted to thank MSG Daniel Baeza from OPFD (Organization and Personnel Force Design) Directorate for the insight on the badge in that article. However, as SGM (Ret.) Minor pointed out there is more to the process, and we want to ensure everyone has all the details involved in not only obtaining the basic badge but also for obtaining the Senior or Master badges.
The Aviation Branch Command Sergeant Major, CSM Brian Hauke (right) and The Aviation Branch Training Sergeant Major, SGM Lloyd Ankrum (second from right) having lunch at Fort Huachuca with 15W and 15E students. / PERSONAL PHOTO PROVIDED BY CSM HAUKE
In the previous issue, we shared how an individual goes about retroactively seeking award of the Basic Aviation Badge. However, we neglected to list one step in the process of meeting the requirements for the Senior or Master badges. That step is as follows: you are required to receive an endorsement from USAACE OPFD at Ft. Rucker in order for the Human Resources Command (HRC) to approve the Senior or Master badges. Go to – https://www.rucker.army.mil/usaace/directorates/cdid/opfd/enlisted/badges/ I hope this further clarifies the process of obtaining the badges as we want to recognize all the outstanding contributions to our branch past, present and future!
Now for this month’s topic…
If you were not already tracking, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be the way of the future. UAS will continue to grow within our branch well into the next century. Whether it’s in the form of dropping long range precision munitions on our enemies or delivering pizzas and Amazon packages, UAS will forever be a part of our lives and a part of Army Aviation. I reinforce this fact with our UAS warriors as it is critical we stress just how large an impact UAS will have on the current and future battlefields.
At the beginning of FY19, personnel numbers in our UAS community were bleak, especially in our operator numbers. We started the fiscal year at 56% within the staff sergeant population, which is critical because our senior instructor and standardization operators come from this population of NCOs. But, due to the deliberate efforts across the Aviation Enterprise to identify the root problems, analyze courses of action, and recommend solutions, the staff sergeant operator population is on the path to recovery. At the end of FY19, our staff sergeant personnel strength stands at 92%. This has also had a significant impact on the increase in instructor operators on hand.
The Branch implemented two specific solutions in order to help increase our UAS instructor operator population. First we increased the throughput of the Instructor Operator (IO) Course. This was done by increasing the number of instructors at the Institution along with the Branch CG approving the IO Course to be taught at the Special Operations Aviation Training Battalion (SOATB). Second, a selective retention bonus (SRB) targeting the IO ASI – U7 was implemented. Year to date, we have contracted for 27 of the U7 bonuses. Bottom line, the staff sergeants are getting it done!
Lastly, I would like to share a couple personal observations from my recent trip to the Institutional Training Base at Fort Huachuca, AZ. I was able to spend some time having lunch and interacting with some students, both operators and maintainers at various stages of training. Rest assured these young men and women are ready, hungry and excited to be serving! Every time I engage our young Soldiers, I am amazed at their level of commitment and dedication. I’d also like to highlight our trainers at Fort Huachuca. If it were not for these professionals, our young Soldiers wouldn’t be ready. Our staff sergeants, sergeants, DA Civilians and contractor professionals are selflessly serving as they coach, teach and mentor our next generation of UAS Soldiers. The entire team at 2nd Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment can truly be proud of the UAS warriors they are building for our Army!
Thanks for the dedication to our Branch, Army and Nation!
Above the Best!
CSM Brian N. Hauke is the command sergeant major of the Aviation Branch and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, AL.