Army Aviation

USASOAC Culture – A Decade in the Making

USASOAC Command Chief Warrant Officer / By CW5 David F. Greenwood: The U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC) turns 10 this year.

Many may simply view USASOAC as the higher headquarters of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (SOAR [ABN]). However, as the Title 10 headquarters, USASOAC plays a supporting role to the Regiment’s commander.

A 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) MH-6 Little Bird helicopter delivers Soldiers into an urban environment under the cover

In recognition of this anniversary, the USASOAC commander directed a holistic review to ensure the headquarters was achieving its resourcing mission to man, train, equip and modernize/sustain the force. Specifically, is USASOAC doing the right things, and are we doing them right?

Part of this review was rearward looking to ensure the reasons for the organization’s creation were understood and remained valid. In the present, we examined the organization’s structure to determine if the original concept allowed the headquarters to achieve its responsibilities moving forward.

As USASOAC digests the results, one key takeaway we have already seen is there are incredible professionals, Soldiers, and civilians alike that excel at translating supported force requirements into capabilities on the line. Regardless of resourcing ebbs and flows and changing priorities, the USASOAC team has consistently maintained a disciplined approach to process, innovative in solutions, and focused on our mission to support the warfighter.

USASOAC has an organizational culture that views the ever-changing landscape as an opportunity to succeed, motivated by the solitary goal of providing our ground forces and our nation with a myriad of aviation options, second to none. Our Soldiers and civilians continually remain agile and adaptive to the environment, ensuring the Regiment achieves and maintains readiness for the nation, now and in the future.

Assessment and Selection

Like most Special Operations Forces (SOF), the 160th SOAR (ABN) is an assessment and selection-based organization. USASOAC provides leadership in recruiting the right Soldiers to meet the Regiment’s demanding mission, maintaining the SOF truth that people are more important than hardware.

Ahead of COVID-19, the USASOAC recruiting team invested in its partnership with United States Army Recruiting Command’s (USAREC) Special Operations Recruiting Battalion (SORB). As a unified team, USASOAC Recruiting and SORB have leveraged technology to multiply digital touchpoints, increasing leads ahead of visits and briefings at locations worldwide. With COVID-19 restricting travel and in-person recruiting, technology has delivered new-found efficiencies allowing the team to become more effective in meeting its mission.

After assignment, USASOAC’s Special Operations Training Battalion (SOATB) conducts the training of future Night Stalkers. More than 30 current programs of instruction (POI), created under the rigor of the U.S. John. F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USJFKSWCS) and approved by TRADOC, are scheduled, managed, and taught by Soldiers and civilians under the SOATB command. Many instructors/writers are current or former Night Stalkers themselves.

Innovation and agility of the SOATB cadre through the last year of COVID-19 resulted in only one non-conduct of an Enlisted Green Platoon (EGP) class. At a rate of approximately 100 students in the program each month, SOATB cadre developed measures to keep Soldiers safe and ensure adherence to our high training standards using smaller student to instructor ratios, small group billeting and training mechanisms, and robust testing and contact tracing protocols.

Regardless of changes to COVID force protection measures moving forward, the methodologies developed by the SOATB team to meet the pandemic challenges have proven to be enhancements to the previous quality product delivered to the Regiment at the end of the pipeline.

Equip, Modernize, Sustain

Three small but highly competent entities, the Systems Integration Management Office (SIMO) and the USASOAC Aviation Maintenance Directorate (AAMD), both partnering with the Technology Applications Program Office (TAPO), achieve USASOAC’s responsibility to equip, modernize, and sustain the force. Although these entities existed in some form before the founding of USASOAC, the structure and daily oversight of these Title 10 functions now fall directly under USASOAC command allowing the Regiment to focus on warfighting.

Delivering capability is nothing new in Army Special Operations. Subject matter experts within SIMO work with the Regiment to define, develop, test, and evaluate operationally relevant solutions for the line. TAPO provides acquisition expertise and program management to deliver capabilities to the 160th SOAR (ABN) warfighters at nearly the speed of need. AAMD maintains and sustains the Regiment’s highly modified manned and unmanned systems throughout the life-cycle of the equipment. The synchronization of effort in support of the 160th SOAR (ABN) of these three entities continues to produce stellar results, many translating to use throughout the greater Army Aviation enterprise.

As USASOAC continues to use the milestone of our tenth anniversary to look introspectively at our effectiveness and efficiency, our mission to rapidly generate solutions and provide support to the requirements of the 160th SOAR (ABN) remains as it was at the inception of this command, our purpose.

Undoubtedly moving forward, we will face a period of uncertainty in our budgets that will challenge our efforts to modernize and sustain. However, the USASOAC culture will remain disciplined in process, innovative in solutions, and focused on our mission to support the warfighter.

We exist to ensure the 160th SOAR (ABN) remains ready to fight and win tonight and tomorrow. The ground forces they carry, and our nation deserve nothing less.

CW5 David F. Greenwood is the fifth command chief warrant officer of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, NC.