FORT RUCKER, Ala. – Army aviation leaders and aviation industry representatives gathered at Fort Rucker to focus on force modernization for large-scale combat operations during a Days of the aeronautical industry from August 2 to 4, 2022.
Hundreds of attendees packed the Post Theater to hear from Army aviation business leaders, and 50 industry vendors showcased their latest technologies at The Landing.
Event host Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commander, thanked aviation company leaders and teammates for their support in his opening speech. He welcomed attendees, including industry partners, veterans and community leaders from the Wiregrass area.
“What a great time to be in Army Aviation,” McCurry said. “In the midst of difficult times across the world and the most significant modernization in 40 years, Industry Days gives us a great opportunity to see new opportunities, meet challenges and have a fruitful dialogue on the future.”
The synergy created at the event will help ensure the continued availability of the combined arms team air component, McCurry explained during his branch update session.
“Army aviation provides the nation, joint force and ground commanders with an unparalleled operational advantage unmatched in scale or capability,” he said.
Aviation provides the combined arms team with the “lethality, mobility, survivability and situational awareness needed to win in this increasingly complex world,” McCurry said.
Although the aviation branch is often seen as the sum of its aircraft platforms – the enduring fleet of Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, as well as its Future Vertical Lift fleet – its driving force is the people.
“What makes our branch truly special are our soldiers – maintainers, operations specialists, air traffic controllers and above all our flyers, all supported by loyal and steadfast families,” he said.
Caring for soldiers and families requires preparing them for large-scale combat operations and forging the educational foundations young warriors need, including updating doctrine and functional courses with an emphasis on tactical combat skills.
Army aviation fighters “present the enemy with multiple dilemmas of time, space and tempo by attacking from multiple directions at a time and place of our choosing,” McCurry said.
Ongoing operations in Europe provide an opportunity to study potential adversaries, much as they have studied US forces during counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The branch must prepare for a future fight where “we will be challenged in every way by a thinking and evolving enemy,” he said. “We must be prepared to operate from positions of relative sanctuary with better sustainment plans and support systems in an austere environment.”
This includes reviewing the way he trains and fights, and organizes and sustains the force.
“The days of the big logistical footprints that we had in places like Bagram and Balad are over. Instead, we need smaller teams of highly trained and skilled maintainers who can operate remotely, away from major logistics hubs,” McCurry said.
Longer times between maintenances will help dominate the lower tier of the air domain, as will increased range and lethality in the future.
The sole purpose of army aviation is the soldier on the ground, McCurry said.
“When that infantryman needs to know what’s just over the hill, we’ll find out. When he needs to be put in a position of tactical advantage, we put them there. If they need a little more firepower, we’ll use it. And, God forbid, if they’re injured on the battlefield, we pick them up,” McCurry said.
Lt. Gen. Dennis S. McKean, deputy commander, Futures and Concepts, U.S. Army Futures Command, Austin, Texas, remarked on the future of combined arms warfare, including the potential impact of emerging technologies on the character of war, and ideas for the employment of future combined arms forces.
“It’s very timely that we have the industry here, and that you hear some of the challenges that we face, how we see the future. We need to understand the environment in which we operate,” McKean said.
McKean expects potential future adversaries to quickly find a way to counter new technologies.
“We need to determine what is going to give us a temporary advantage, so that we can employ our forces with the speed, range and capability they need to accomplish the missions given to them,” he said. .
“An important and expensive thing could be mitigated very quickly at first. So what? What do you have left? These are some of the considerations we take when doing our design work and our wargames,” he said.
McKean said the man-machine team will be essential in the future force.
“Don’t lead with your face,” McKean said, referring to future combat where first contact would have to be made using unmanned systems. “It’s part of developing some of our capabilities.”
McKean praised McCurry, who recently took the reins as head of the 17th Air Force Branch, as a “right leader at the right time” who understands the terrain as well as the aviation side.
“We are very fortunate to have his leadership and vision here at Fort Rucker and to help lead our military,” McKean said.
Speaker sessions with leaders from across the aviation branch included updates by Maj. Gen. Todd Royar, US Army Aviation and Missile Command; and Maj. Gen. William D. Taylor, Director, Army Aviation, Office of the G-3/5/7 Deputy Chief of Staff, Army Pentagon.
Brig. Gen. Robert L. Barrie, Jr., program director for aviation, provided an update on priority efforts.
The list of guest speakers also included Brig. Gen. Stephanie R. Ahern, director of the Concepts, Futures and Concepts Center, US Army Futures Command; and Senior Executive Jeffrey L. Langhout, director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center.
Colonel Chad Chasteen, Director of Operations for the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team, provided an update on the FVL ecosystem in large-scale combat operations and highlights from the recent Experimental Demonstration Gateway event (“Edge 22 “).
The event also included scheduled opportunities to hear from the Aeronautical Capability Development and Integration Branch on modernization efforts, as well as Project Managers and Aeronautical Capability Managers on their portfolios, with time allotted for question-and-answer sessions.
|FORT RUCKER, AL, USA
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