From the President's Cockpit
The Summit and SOA - A Powerful Combination
By all measurable standards the 2014 AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit was an overwhelming success. The numbers speak for themselves with over 7,000 registered attendees, 250 exhibitors, and an all-time high for attendance at the Hall of Fame Induction as well as our Soldier Appreciation Concert.
Having just completed our after action review I can report out that the changes we made transitioning from the traditional AAAA Annual Convention to the present day Summit have been effective.
Trimming the duration from 3.5 days to 2.5 days definitely worked. We’ve received numerous positive comments on this tremendous Networking opportunity. Orchestrating the professional program at three different levels also worked well. From the 2,000 person general sessions to the standing room only crowd at the AAAA Army Aviation Community Pavilion Theater to hear senior Army Aviation leaders take Q&A, as well as the topic-specific Deep Dives right off the exhibit floor, each venue truly facilitated terrific lateral communication.
The busing of almost 1,000 soldiers a day from Fort Campbell was instrumental to making sure your Voice was heard by both industry and Army decision makers. Special thanks to our keynote speaker, General John Campbell, Army Vice Chief of Staff, and Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Army Acquisition Executive, for opening the professional sessions.
The Recognition given to our National Awardees made me proud to be associated with these fine young Americans. The Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Monday night was truly world class. From the magnificent biographical videos hosted by Mr. David Hartman, to the stage sets, and room decorations, it was A-List all the way. We had a number of already inducted Hall of Fame members jokingly ask after the event if they might be re-inducted using this new program! Thanks to Mr. Hartman for donating his services, to Ron Kaplan the producer, and Hal Kushner our Hall of Fame Chairman for a very memorable experience.
The Family Support displays were also very well received from quilting fundraisers to Wounded Warrior organizations. Thanks to HAI for their effort in putting together the Job Fair and the Transition workshop.
The spouse/family tours were quite popular and finally the informal…yes, I said informal… closing dinner concert with Trisha Yearwood was just what we needed to end on a great relaxed and fun note.
The digital surveys sent to those who attended, plus a separate Exhibitor Survey will provide us the requisite feedback in order to make any additional changes as we begin planning for our next Summit in Nashville on 29-31 March 2015.
This edition of Army Aviation magazine’s special focus is on Special Operations Aviation (SOA), prompting me to make some observations.
A few years ago, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) added a 5th Special Operations Forces (SOF) Truth, “most special operations require non-SOF assistance.” Many Army and Naval aviation units are providing such support to SOF missions in theater. However, “Rotary Wing Support to SOF” and “SOF Rotary Wing Support” are mutually exclusive.
The claim of why devote all those resources to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) when conventional units are supporting SOF today is unfounded. Operating in the joint environment to conduct high end, high threat, assaults, hostage rescue, aerial refuels and terrain following/terrain avoidance over long distances, all point to a requirement, and an absolute necessity, for a dedicated SOF rotary wing capability.
Resourcing for Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC) will become difficult in the out years as U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) continues to make difficult budget decisions just like the Services must do. It is already being felt by 8 MH-47G aircraft without personnel, a reduction in flying hours, and a smaller Army that will make recruiting a challenge to fill cockpit seats. While only 1.8% of DoD Total Obligational Authority, SOCOM will need to ensure all appropriate resources are available to make certain this one-of-a-kind capability never regresses from proficiency to merely currency.
This issue features some excellent insights from an element of Army Aviation that has been deployed continuously since 2001. Be sure to read the piece from the CG, ARSOAC, one of the Army’s newest organizations, on how they intend to maintain core competencies as the current fight winds down.
There’s an outstanding article about an aircraft meant for the Army inventory, banished to the boneyard by the U.S. Air Force but successfully rescued by SOCOM – the C-27J. I also commend to you professional information contained in this issue pertaining to mission planning, the end of an era for the MH-60K, and the first step all future SOA personnel take thru the SOA Training Battalion. Once again, it was a great Summit. Thanks to all who made it possible! Enjoy this issue of your AAAA magazine.
Above the Best!
BG Howard W. Yellen, Ret.
31st President, AAAA