NASHVILLE (Army News Service, May 8, 2014) – A completely rewritten field manual for Army aviation, now in development, will be published in about a year. Field Manual 3-04 will reflect a strategic shift to air-ground operations.
That’s a “big shift,” according to Brig. Gen. Michael Lundy, commander, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Ala.
Lundy spoke at the two-day Army Aviation Association of America, known as Quad A, 2014 Mission Solutions Summit at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel here, yesterday. His seminar was titled “Maintaining the Edge in an Evolving Environment.”
Air-ground operations, he explained, is about conducting unified land operations with sister services and multi-national partners. The focus is supporting Soldiers on the ground.
Partnering and interdependence are a big part of the shift. At Fort Rucker, there are soldiers from 47 nations training with U.S. Soldiers, he pointed out. There also will be an emphasis on joint exercises and operations, including with Special Operations Forces.
Air-ground doctrine also has expeditionary aspects, he said, like operating in smaller units with regionally aligned forces. The Army chief of staff calls these units “tailorable and scalable.” The shift will require greater agility.
Besides the new field manual, other updates will occur around the same time frame as Field Manual 3-04.
In addition to doing away with older doctrinal manuals, Field Manual 3-04 will be supported by a number of technical manuals, including topics on mission command, tactical employment techniques, survivability and sustainment, he said.
Field Manual 3-04 is now in structural development, he explained, meaning the sections are being organized. Once a draft is completed, the manual will be staffed out to the brigades for review.
This “capstone document” will be relevant to all aviation branches, he added.
TRAINING & EDUCATION
Besides doctrinal change, there are upgrades being made to professional military education and training.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but Soldiers need to spend more time learning how to fight war, “as opposed to just knowing how to push buttons” as they progress through aviation training, Lundy said. “More focus needs to be on the art, not just the science.”
The Army Restructuring Initiative, or ARI, will free up some program of instruction time so Soldiers can get back to learning basic and advanced combat skills.
He explained that ARI is resulting in fewer aircraft that pilots will need to learn to fly and fewer that mechanics must learn to fix; the Kiowa divestment, for instance. That frees up valuable POI time.
Another aspect of training Lundy is focusing on changing is de-emphasizing some of the common core curriculum in advanced courses and focusing more on the technical and leadership aspects of aviation. “The common core is too broad and takes up too much of the POI,” he said, adding that he’s working with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Combined Arms Center to “get that corrected.”
Soldiers at Advanced Individual Training are already getting common core training that includes theory and understanding of how things work so they can work on “multiple components and multiple aircraft,” he pointed out, adding that those skills will give Soldiers the knowledge they need to maintain or fix aircraft, something that’s been handled mostly by contractors over the last decade or so.
Army aviation is also introducing a lot more virtual, constructive and gaming simulation to its coursework in an effort to increase fidelity and train more efficiently, he said. When students are at Rucker learning this type of training, it gives them an edge when they get back to their home stations, where they’ll be able to use their own simulators. In effect, “we’re training them to learn how to train,” Lundy said.
As the Army becomes more “CONUS-based,” emphasis will also be placed on more and better quality home-station training, he said. Home-station training will include exercises up to the brigade level.
Brigade commanders will be leading that effort, he said, as will the combat training centers. “We’re pushing to get that fully integrated.”
An especially important initiative underway, he said, is building a central repository of lessons learned, tips, tactics and strategies units employ during exercises. This repository will allow Soldiers and units to share their own solutions and collaborate using information technology.
Units will soon be “hanging a lot of exercise products” in the repository, he said. Fort Rucker has already taken the lead, filling the repository with training products and that’s being pushed out to commanders right now.
Another initiative is the Project Warrior Program. The idea is to bring more experienced and the best instructor pilots and maintenance and safety instructors into TRADOC. They must also have the right fit, he said. The idea is to improve quality of instruction and provide the right mentors for young lieutenants and warrant officers.
Human Resources Command, known as HRC, and brigade commanders are leading that effort, hand-selecting the best off the flight lines.
The most important task at hand, Lundy said, is figuring out “how to develop and keep the best talent.”
“We need to have the right people in right place, so we’ll be looking at skills and developing and maintaining the most talented,” he said.
Sadly, about 10,000 people will leave Army aviation in the next five years, some involuntarily and through no fault of their own, Lundy said. “We’ve got to honor the service of those leaving our ranks and ensure we transition them right,” he emphasized.
There’s “a lot of concern in the force” regarding not only the drawdown but ARI, as “we transition from different air frames across the components,” he said.
Making ARI a success — and it will be a success, he said — will take “a lot of engaged leadership from HRC and the branch, brigade commanders.
“There will be a period of risk as this transition takes place,” Lundy said, adding that during this period, “we have to ensure we don’t lose our readiness.” Timing, synchronization, and detailed work among leaders across the components will make that happen, he said.
Lastly, he added: “It’s not all about the machines that we fly, it’s also about Soldiers and their leaders.”